Thursday, May 11, 2017

When Fishermen Don't Fish

Boats on the coastal waters
As my companion's foot recovery seems to be ongoing, I have taken every opportunity to recruit the members to go on exchanges with me to teach and find. Doesn't always pan out. Seems lately there have been more cancellations than appointments. Doing my best, however, to change that.

Injuries and illnesses in the mission field are a funny thing. They coop a missionary up and re-direct his focus inward. Yes, when missionaries who are called to work don't work - the result is less than ideal.

Reminds me of a piece from Christian author, Max Lucado.  He told of a time when his father, his friend and he went on a fishing trip during Spring Break in a camper.  They arrived in the evening and excitedly anticipated the next day on the lake and the large bounty of fish they would catch.

But there was a problem. During the night, a north wind blew in, making it very difficult to open the camper door, much less try and fish on a white-capped turbulent lake. Max shares their reaction:
“No problem,” we said. “We’ll spend the day in the camper. After all, we have Monopoly. We have Reader’s Digest. We all know a few jokes. It’s not what we came to do, but we’ll make the best of it and fish tomorrow.”

So, huddled in the camper with a Coleman stove and a Monopoly board, we three fishermen passed the day—indoors. The hours passed slowly, but they did pass. Night finally came, and we crawled into the sleeping bags dreaming of angling. Were we in for a surprise. The next morning it wasn’t the wind that made the door hard to open, it was the ice!

We tried to be cheerful. “No problem,” we mumbled. “We can play Monopoly…again. We can reread the stories in Reader’s Digest. And surely we know another joke or two.” But as courageous as we tried to be, it was obvious that some of the gray had left the sky and entered our camper.

I began to notice a few things I hadn’t seen before. I noticed that Mark had a few personality flaws. He was a bit too cocky about his opinions. He was easily irritated and constantly edgy. He couldn’t take any constructive criticism. Even though his socks did stink, he didn’t think it was my business to tell him. “Just looking out for the best interest of my dad’s camper,” I defended, expecting Dad to come to my aid. But Dad just sat over in the corner, reading. Humph, I thought, where is he when I need him? And then, I began to see Dad in a different light. When I mentioned to him that the eggs were soggy and the toast was burnt, he invited me to try my hand at the portable stove. Touchy, touchy, I said to myself. Nothing like being cooped up in a camper with someone to help you see his real nature.
It was a long day. It was a long, cold night. When we awoke the next morning to the sound of sleet slapping the canvas, we didn’t even pretend to be cheerful. We were flat-out grumpy. Mark became more of a jerk with each passing moment; I wondered what spell of ignorance I must have been in when I invited him. Dad couldn’t do anything right; I wondered how someone so irritable could have such an even-tempered son. We sat in misery the whole day, our fishing equipment still unpacked.
The next day was even colder. “We’re going home” were my father’s first words. No one objected. I learned a hard lesson that week. Not about fishing, but about people. 
When those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight. When energy intended to be used outside is used inside, the result is explosive. Instead of casting nets, we cast stones. Instead of extending helping hands, we point accusing fingers. Instead of being fishers of the lost, we become critics of the saved. Rather than helping the hurting, we hurt the helpers.
Having gone through a few companions with physical ailments, I have seen moments like Max's days in the camper come and go.  I think the best way to cope in such scenarios is to find ways to make it not about you,  

That's what the Savior would do.

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Matthew 4:19
Come Follow Me by James T. Harwood
Have a Great week, Friends,
Elder Connor Nef

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