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Only one fish: but for the generosity of a stranger.

During a vacation in Florida, I had been invited to go fishing with two other men at a pier in Panama City Beach. We were very well equipped with all the latest gear: rods, reels, lures, bait, and we were ready to catch lots of fish. Well, after four hours of fishing we had caught only one fish--one fish between three hungry men.


As we tried and tried to catch fish, we came up with nothing. I happened to notice a stranger fishing on the other side of the pier. He had very simple fishing gear and was a little scruffy looking. He was pulling in fish almost every time he threw in his line.

Many other fishermen on the pier were watching this man with envy. They weren't catching any fish either, but not one of them went over to ask this man what he was doing to catch so many fish.

I could not resist the temptation. I crossed over to the other side of the pier and introduced myself to this stranger. The very first thing he said to me as i approached was, "Hello, brother. I see you are having a bad fishing day. Can I help?" The welcome and the way he said it immediately clued me in that this was a brother in Christ. We talked first about our joy of being brothers in Christ, our respective ministry, and our love of Christ, and then we got down to fishing talk.

He told me we were using the wrong bait. We were using frozen squid; the fish were looking for fresh squid and the fish knew the difference. (Hmm ... smart fish!) He was using fresh squid. It was late in the day and there was little time to catch squid. He told me when and how to catch live squid for the next time we went fishing off the pier.

This man then said, "I have noticed that your group has only caught one fish." I replied, yes, that was true. He then said, "Well, that is not enough to feed all of you so would you like some of my fish?" Liking fresh fish as much as I do, I quickly accepted his offer. He opened up his fish barrel and gave us 12 fish which was about half of what he had and then asked, "Would you like more?"

I said, "No, brother; you have been very generous with your advice, friendship and the sharing of your catch. Thank you and may God bless you for this generosity."

The other members in our fishing party stood and watched in absolute amazement. They were so surprised by what had happened; I was not.

We ate the fish together for lunch and, sorry, I could not resist, I brought some loaves of bread.

Bill Ashby is an elder at St Andrew's, Coldwater, Ont.
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Title Annotation:Reflection
Author:Ashby, Bill
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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