“So you had your own boat,” the young man asked, “and fished commercially?”
“Yes. It was a long time ago,” the old preacher said.
“That’s really cool. Why did you quit?”
“It was ‘cool,’ as you say,” said the preacher. “I actually quit twice, then left for good. Life has other things that need to be done, things that aren’t always as pleasant. Not that staying up all night fishing to come home without even a fish to cook for breakfast is so wonderful.”
“It surely did. More than once. There was one time,” then the preachers voice fell off and his eyes glazed over, misting.
“I had gone back to fishing after about four years away, after my teacher and friend died,” the preacher continued. “I was with old friends, fishermen. We’d been out all night long, catching absolutely nothing—not even a nibble. Just after dawn we headed back in, knowing it was no use staying out longer. As we came to shore, not far from our town, we saw a man on cooking stirring a small campfire. ‘If he’s waiting for fish to fry,’ we all thought, ‘he’s gonna wait a long time.
” ‘Do you have any fish?’ the man on the beach beckoned to us. We all called out, ‘No!’ at the same time. He called back to us, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ ”
“Did you catch some then?” the young man prodded the old preacher.
“I can’t imagine why we even gave that man the time of day,” the preacher mused aloud. “I mean, some non-fisherman tells us, the experts, where to drop a line to catch fish. But we did.”
“And,” the young man impatiently prodded.
“And we were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish,” the preacher said.
“WOW! So who was that man?”
“Well, it was our teacher, the one we’d originally left fishing to follow around the country.”
“Wait! You said he died, that was why you went back to fishing.”
“That’s true,” the old preacher said. “He died and came back from the dead and came to us on the beach. It was just like him, too. We pulled that load of fish up on the sand, and he was already cooking fish on his campfire. He looked at usand said, ‘Come. Have breakfast.’ ”
“WOW! Wasn’t that a shock?”
“Oh, we’d seen him before,” the preacher explained. “After he died, he resurrected and came to us so that we’d understand all that he’d taught us.”
“So he’s the one who taught you how to be a preacher?”
“Indeed! We mourned him even when he returned to speak to us. And one of my friends said, ‘I am going fishing!’ and a few of us went, too,” the preacher explained.
“But you quit fishing then, right?”
“Yes. Our teacher left us with a mandate; he said:
“So we did. And here I am today.”
“Yes. WOW,” sighed the old preacher.
(Based on John 21)