The Fish That Didn’t Get Away

Late Wednesday night, Don, my husband, found a waiting text message upon our return from Abel House. Tired and concerned about the lateness of the hour but filled with delicious food and the usual bonhomie following our time of conversation, prayer, and Bible study, he was a bit unsure about responding right then to the texted request: “Hey! Are u up for a quick chat? Good news to share!”

Then, he noted that the sender is someone he loves and for whom we both had been praying for a long time. If she were still awake, the time felt right. He clicked on the number.

She sounded different even as her conversation started with a job report—good news, promotion earned, management position achieved, more money, more responsibility, more opportunity—finally, a career! Don had always known her potential and listened with pleasure to her evident pride and joy in her accomplishment and to her sincere thanks for all his supportive love, prayer, guidance, advice, care, and concern that she had not only failed to acknowledge for many years but sometimes actually rejected.

As he warmly congratulated her, she shyly and awkwardly added more good news—the real reason for her text message: She who had once been in a close relationship with the Lord but like so many young people had drifted away with her independence from her family, with her job trials, with her friends who did not share her childhood church experiences now has answered His call to return to her relationship with Him!

Her testimony followed Don’s stunned, jubilant questions. During the job transition, she met another Christian young lady who shares her faith easily. They began eating lunch, talking and praying together. Then, she met a young divorced dad, a Christian, different from the many young men she has known and with whom she has had relationship opportunities. She described her relationship with him as “respectful”—several times—and mentioned that they pray together. A truly beautiful woman in her mid-thirties and never married, she seems to have found “the one.” And, after yet another long search, she has also settled upon a New Testament church home that offers many chances for service to the Lord.

She revealed that within the prayer times with both new Christian friends and her church, she had rekindled her relationship with Christ and realized that the Holy Spirit was still working in her life. She searched and saw His hand in numerous recent events: in His answers to prayers she had spoken and prayers she had not dared to speak, in His reminders of what she had been taught as a child in a Christian home, in His provision of her newfound confidence and peace, in His reminder that those who had always loved her and been there in the past are still with her just as He is.

That indeed is good news!

Her testimony reminded me of the many discussions I have known in both our home and Bible study in answer to the questions How is it that God through His Holy Spirit enters into our hearts and draws us to Him? and What is the role of relationships in our discoveries of His love and presence?

Clearly, Christ never left this young woman’s life, but her focus had shifted for a while from her relationship with Him to relationships that drew her away from Him. His response was to break those old alliances and send her new colleagues, a church home, and a possible soul mate to draw that focus back to Him.

Don reminded her that her relationship with Christ will have the hills and valleys that delight and annoy everyone in every relationship, including the fresh ones God has recently provided to her. He pointed out that we and others are always available as members of her Christian faith to rejoice with her on the hills or slog with her through the valleys until she is uplifted again. If she reaches for Him and others, they will be there.

I was reminded of my own first call from the Lord. I learned about Jesus through a children’s song when I was only three. I remember. In a Presbyterian Sunday School class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, way back in 1949, we sang “I Will Make You Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke. I can still sing the song but almost no one else remembers singing it when they were little. The lyrics of the first verse are “’I will make you fishers of men . . . If you follow Me,’” of the second, “Hear Christ calling, ‘Come unto Me . . . I will give you rest,’” and of the third, “’I will give you rest . . . I will give you rest.’”

Because we were so young, we performed the song with appropriate hand gestures, throwing out our fishing line with each sung line through the first verse, then sweeping the bountiful catch toward us through the second, and folding our hands at our cheeks to rest through the third. I never will forget it because it sustains me to this day.

Once again, Christ has cast out His line for a fish who was adrift, swept her into His embrace, and brought her to rest again in His love and the support of Christian relationships.

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