Story by Danny Mann
The sun had just begun to make its daily appearance over the tips of the majestic pines as the father and his son untied the rope that held the boat to the pier. With a gentle push, the father used an oar to move the small boat away from the dock.
The setting was almost surreal. As the sun continued its climb on the eastern horizon, the thin blanket of mist covering the surface of the lake seemed to glitter like tiny diamonds. The only sounds were those of the oars cutting through the water and the gentle lapping of the lake against the front of the boat. As the world continued to awaken, the piercing caw of a crow echoed through the pines, only to be followed by another – and a new day was born.
The boy sat in the front of the boat, soaking it all in. This was his first fishing trip. A slight breeze made a few strands of thin blonde hair tickle across his forehead. He shivered, partly from the morning chill, but mostly from a barely contained sense of excited anticipation. Sleep hadn’t come easily to him last night. And waking early, normally a “real bummer,” had been no problem.
Preparations had begun days in advance – a trip to the store to find just the right rod and reel, just the right lure, and his own small tackle box – red plastic with a shiny silver latch.
The previous evening, the boy had followed his dad around the garage as he searched through one closet after another, gathering the equipment they would need for the next day’s excursion. Then, having located all the rods and reels, the ice chest, the net, which looked to the boy like a tennis racket with really loose strings, they loaded it all into the truck. They were ready to go.
They spent an hour in the backyard practicing with the rod and reel. The boy seemed to have a knack for casting and the father’s eyes twinkled with amusement, and more than a little pride, as he watched his son. He was as excited as the boy. What a great day it was going to be.
After ten minutes of moderate rowing, the father found just the right spot. He pulled the oars in and carefully lowered them to the floor of the boat. He held his finger to his lips reminding his son to be quiet. He pointed to the spot where he thought the fish might be and whispered, “Try over there.”
The boy lifted the tip of his rod over and away from his shoulder. With a flick and a zing, as if he were a pro and not a boy on his first fishing trip, he let fly the lure and it splashed down in just the right spot. He let it sink just a bit and started cranking the reel. And then it happened – on his first cast, on his first fishing trip, the rod jerked in his hands and the bass broke the surface of the lake as it began its losing battle.
After a brief struggle, the boy was staring in wide-eyed fascination at the flopping, glistening bass. It was beautiful – the pulsing of its gills, the hundreds of different shades of gray and green and blue, the big dark eyes – the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
The father slipped the hook from the bass’s mouth and let it slide back into the water. This was no surprise to the boy. He knew that a fish out of water was a fish that would die. He didn’t want it to die. He just wanted to catch another one.
Worship is for people what water is for fish. Without it, our souls will die. In worship, the physical world intersects with the spiritual world. In worship, the beating of our hearts are melded with the yearning of our souls. Without worship, we’re like fish out of water.
Come. Drink deeply at the fountain of worship. There really is relief for the parched and thirsty soul.