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Guide Jordan Klemish, left, took a client on the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan the same day the author fished the river. Klemish and the client likely caught fish while the author didn't.
Guide Jordan Klemish, left, took a client on the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan the same day the author fished the river. Klemish and the client likely caught fish while the author didn't.
Photo Credit: Teak Phillips | teakphillips@archstl.org | @TeakPhillips

Fishing trip reflects faith lessons

When we seem to be coming up empty, our hope in Jesus sees us through

In early May, I hit the holy water. Not the sacramental kind — the fishy kind.

The 9-mile stretch of trout water on the Au Sable River in Michigan (colloquially known as the "Holy Water") is famous among fly fishers, especially in early May when the trout are eager to eat insects or — hopefully — the imitations made by fishermen with little feathers tied on a hook. I anticipated a legendary day of fly fishing.

By the afternoon, I had snagged about $15 worth of flies in trees and on rocks, water had crept into my waders, my thighs burned from trudging through current fast enough to be marginally unsafe, my toes hurt from muck packed in wading boots, and a dog had charged me. I had no fish.

The disciples fishing in John chapter 21 had no fish, either. Fishing all night on their own “holy water” — the Sea of Galilee — their boat was empty. They were probably cold, wet and tired, but Scripture says nothing about cramped toes and charging dogs. Then the resurrected Jesus arrived and told them to cast to the other side of the boat. They caught 153 fish and had a feast on the shore. Jesus was their hope.

I guess that day on the holy water in Michigan reflects my discipleship. I didn’t lose my love of fishing just because I caught no fish; but I did want to be a better fisherman. I committed to learning more about trout, to tie better flies, to improve my casting and to remember to dump the muck out of my soles.

Sometimes my faith gets hung up, I feel soaked, it hurts and I get attacked. These are reminders to pray more, to study more, to love more and to dump the muck out of my soul.

There’s hope in one more cast, and there’s hope in Jesus resurrected.

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