Monday, April 27

Deep sea fisherman.....

"So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed because I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand." Isaiah 41:10

Standing at the helm of this storm-tossed ship, watching the biggest wave ever formed begin to crest, I have gone from the fearful state where my humanity begs for air to scream and stand tense....waiting for that moment, that signal, that signifies the beginning of the end: the end of waiting, the end of any effort that my broken, sinful humanity could possibly bring to bear, that time -- waited for since the dawn of my creation and the first cry of a newborn male child. This, I can feel with every fiber of my being, is what I am purposed for.

The wave, massive in its height and scale, blots out the horizon....blots out all hope of escape. There simply is nowhere to run, no rescue to come in time, there is no one on the deck......this is my time. This has been a long time in coming, the culmination of lost loves, love wrongly loved, relationships broken by circumstances, time, and my own hand. In the mirror like glassy surface of the massive wave, I see the heartaches, the sin, the sorrows, the suffering, and the brokenness of my heart boiling under its turning and chaotic surface.

When the Master of the ocean meets you in such a dramatic and undeniable way, despite the attachments each deep-sea sailor has to the land of his birth, everything becomes irrevant and pointless.

No son who has borne more than his share of sorrow, no daughter who bears so much brokenness and suffering in similiar fashion to your own (the makings of a deep-sea fisher herself), no friend who means more to you than you could ever say or ever show, and no one to bear you up under the approaching crush of the Perfect storm. When you are a deep sea fisherman, you challenge the Master of the Deep each and every day. Sometimes the harvest of the fish are plentiful, still wrought with danger but danger of the level you're prepared for.

Sometimes it takes longer to gather enough to pack the holds, to make the journey upon the miles of deep, dark ocean worthwhile and you face unexpected dangers...but find yourself up to the challenge and coming out on the other side with holds full and a song to sing.

But, as every seasoned salt will tell those willing pups who sit to listen, you challenge the Mighty enough and you will come face to face with the darkness of your soul and tremble at the display of mighty sovereignty of the Ruler of the Deep. Its as certain as the need to cast the mooring lines off to move out to sea or as certain as the dawn of a new day. He will hear your challenge and He will answer; in ways you cannot prepare for and cannot predict.

And when He does, after you've done all you can; battened down hatches as tight as they can be, casting off the dead weight of equipment no longer effective, and jury-rigging the damage of the precursor gales that have buffeted your too small vessel in preparation for this spectacular finale; there is nothing left to do but face the Creator of the storm and be humbled.

In that moment between waiting and beginning, between inspiration and dread; you look back upon the path that has brought you out, far from land's embrace and protection, and see the moments of your life that have been in response to that deep sea call; leaving those who prefer the relatively safety of the inland waters, dunking their poles into the waters and pulling out smaller fish, though huge by their experience, compared to the ones you have seen in your travels to the deep. You smile at the memory of the honest, heart-felt impressions made by those who dared to cast their poles in a new and strange fashion and who yeild a bountiful harvest from the inland shores until the fish themselves learned the tricks and began to ignore the lure of the overused technique.

Mighty fishermen were they in the little puddles of water, easily impressing those who gathered upon the shore to watch such overskilled techniques in a shallow and limited environment. Even then, you felt the lure of the open ocean and the siren call of the deep. Little ponds filled with stagnant water, unmoved by the current running deep under the surface and unchallenging in the fish swimming beneath its waves.

You remember the adventure in its infancy; catching a ride upon another's vessel...the greenhorn amid giants scarred and bruised by the life of a deep sea fisherman. You remember gathered for evening meals as the waves gently tossed themselves against the hull, listening to tales both horrifying and inspiring from those veterans --- and smile as you remember that one who drew you aside one day and told you to listen with purpose, garnering what uses you could from the tales told, and that day you were included in the longer a greenhorn but looked upon as one of the few; a deep-sea fisherman.

You recall the joys of a life such as this; the massive sized fish, the likes no inlander would ever see and have never believed existed. The dawning of a new day upon the crystal waters of the deep, that sucks the sunlight in like a favored drink, disappearing into the darkness of its heart and sending the glowing sparkle back through the water to be almost painful to watch directly such splendor. The open sky above, the untarnished line of the horizon, and the fading memory of a land that bound your heart and soul in its embrace.

The sorrows too. Shipmates taken by tragic accidents; a hook catching them and dragging them into the crushing depth of the deep, foolish mistakes made upon the dangerous deck of a deep fisher, and those too precious few who journeyed back with you with holds full and rewards bountiful only to be felled upon the land they detested, a deep sear is never at home on the land, by some unknown disease or the dreaded "c" of cancer. Very few, in your replayed memories, so very few simply went to sleep in the night and never came back to the land of the living to venture forth with you again into the deep.

But even then, with the passing of remembered sorrows and suffering, even then your face cracks into a smile as you recall the intoxicating thrum of the engines as the Boat Master pushed the throttles full forward, the turning sound of the water churning against the hull as it slices through the surface, the ship's nose pulled out a bit as if she were smelling out the fish that were to be hauled in, as if she were looking for her bearings so that the 'right spot' could be found.

The dolphins that welcome you into the open waters, the gulls that squawk their cheers to your ears as you return to what you are, to what you were meant to be: a deep sea of the few, some say, foolhearty who cast their lots out upon the deep....

You remember the early days of learning the trade; working the decks, making what sometimes were easily rectified mistakes and sometimes were life-threating errors but surviving the struggles and the long hours and the full or empty nets and cages....that fade into the memories of a seasoned hand, the work coming almost effortlessly as you watched that greenhorn who came aboard much like you were once, frightened of their own shadow and overwhelmed with the work to be done.....some returned and grew into cherished shipmates; others rejected the foolheartiness of the open water in favor of shallow depths embraced by assured landbased rescue.

The weight of the steering beneath your hand, even now you can remember the sweaty palms and parched throat as you took the helm for the first time and worked the boat as you once worked the equipment on the deck; learning a new skill you never dreamed you'd be able to master but dared to dream of. Ah, the pleasure of being a deep sea captain.....even with the added responsibility of crew and equipment and navigating to those fruitful waters....there is nothing in your experience that compared to commanding the helm of such a vessel.

As the wave crests and begins to suck your ship into it darkening depth, raising the bow towards the vertical and your limbs respond with remembered lessons taught upon these very waters; the pushing of the throttles wide open and the thrumming response from the engines below, the tightening of your grip upon the remember those who came before you; some generations of salted deep seaers....

from infancy to their watery graves growing up in the comfort and traditions of Glouster families, some who's blood ran salty and others whose pride of their heritage spelled their own doom.

Others, like yourself, landlubbers whose blood was transfused by the taste and adventure; the walking wounded, the scars of a old life unlearned and a new life lessoned by the harshness and unforgiving origins of your birth. But all, deep seaers, Glouster fishermen each and every one.....

As you reach the almost vertical point, where ship will either fall back, collasping upon itself as the water claims each and every open orifice and the deep claims its reward; you feel the remembered weight of hands upon your own, guiding but never forcing, as they ease the throttles a bit, turn the wheel slightly, as the dance between nature and man comes to its conclusion. You stand in the embrace of the Master of the Deep, who respects no man....sinner or saint, landlubber or deep salt....all come to this point upon the vessel they captain. And you know, as the vessel tips, that you will never be the same.......

As your eyes accept the darkness, either for eternity's momentary instance or until the storm has passed and sunlight once again graces the hear the words that awoke in your heart so long ago the desire of the deep.....

"Come follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men."

You know; whether your name becomes inscribed upon the walls of the momument to those who have passed before you as a moot testimony to the history of the sea...or whether those equally as foolhearty, brave souls of the rescuers pluck you from the sea's embrace once again, you have answered that call placed upon your heart and throbbing in your veins for so long.....

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

Dr. David Livingstone, a missionary, was working in Africa when some friends wrote to him about their desire to send him help. "We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?"

It is Dr. Livingstone's reply that I would challenge each of you who sit in the fancy bass fishing boats on inland waters, or even those of you who fish like deep seaers in shallow waters, and even those who watch from the shoreline.

Dr. Livingstone said, "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."
You will never realize the passion of the faith, the joy amid the sorrow of the belief, nor the peace in the midst of the storm of the Maker's hand until you cast your line out into the deep and let the Lord of it all pull you in.

You will never realize the glory and majesty of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob until you challenge the deep where He lives......make a road where none exist, travel to the deep that few have experienced.

Dare to risk it all, throwing everything to the wind........

Be a deep sea fisherman....

and find that in giving it all, you gain so much more than you could ever imagine.

The Master of the Deep is calling.........

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