I worked the giant for as long as I dared and managed to get it up on top of the wall.
My childhood home was in Westfield, New York, a small community less than a mile from Lake Erie. My hometown has a small suburb connected to it on its north named Barcelona. Interestingly, it is the only other Barcelona in the world besides Barcelona, Spain. And like Barcelona, Spain, the one near my hometown is also a harbor town, but not on the Atlantic Ocean. Barcelona, New York is on Lake Erie.
The Barcelona, New York Harbor has three break walls to protect its docks from the storms. One wall is connected to the shore on the east side of the port, another on the west, and a third is situated in between, out into the lake, surrounded by water and is therefore unreachable from the shore. The three break-walls, though not connected, are in the shape of a “U” and block waves from coming into the harbor. The only way to reach the outer break-wall is by boat.
Since Barcelona is such a short distance from Westfield, often in the summers during my adolescent years, I would ride my bike to the lake toting my fishing pole so I could throw my line into the water and occupy my summer days by angling. Every time I would go, however, I would do what everyone else would do. I would fish from either of the break walls that were connected to the shore since they were the only ones I could reach by foot. It would always seem to me that those areas must be fished out of all the big ones. However, I felt if there was some way to get to the outer break wall, there would surely be a quantity of giants to fish for.
One day I learned that one of my friends had a rowboat. I called him, coaxed him and threatened him until he agreed to row me out to the outer break wall. Since he wasn’t able to join me, he dropped me off and agreed to pick me up later. I began my day of fishing on Barcelona, New York’s version of the “outer banks”.
The water was especially clear that day. I fished all day, had tried everything and had caught only a few small bass not even of legal size. As it was nearing the time when my friend would be coming back to pick me up, I decided to use a spinner since all my good worms were gone or dried up.
I cast it out and pulled it behind me as I walked along the top of the wall watching it sparkle in the sunshine and ripples of the water. All at once, a huge largemouth bass broke from the weeds on the bottom of the lake and made a beeline upward toward my spinner. He sucked it into his mouth, and I was in a fight.
I worked the giant for as long as I dared and managed to get it up on top of the wall. I looked at it flopping on the cement floor of the break wall and thought, “this is the biggest fish in the world. It must be somehow related to the one that swallowed Jonah.” Truth be known, it wasn’t very big at all. But for a twelve year old, fishing alone, and catching the biggest fish he had ever caught in his young life, it looked like a monster.
What happened next took me by surprise.
When I turned around to tell someone, no one was there. I wanted to shout and brag. I wanted someone to say to me, “Great job kid. You are awesome. You’re the greatest fisherman ever.” But there was no one to be seen. I was all alone on that wall which I had originally intended was the way I wanted it. Yet, in that moment, I felt as though all the wind had rushed from my sails. It sapped the joy right out of the experience. Oh, I told people later; but by then, the moment had lost a great deal of its luster.
The experience teaches me the value of relationships in Christ. Paul challenges believers to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I could have used someone to rejoice with that day.
So many run from relationships because they have run-ins with people; or they have self-image issues, or trust issues, or anger issues, or critical issues, or forgiveness issues. People in our family-starved culture find all manner of reasons to isolate. However, when we do that, we miss out on the love benefits that relationship with Christ provides.
Have you found any reasons to isolate from anyone, or perhaps many, lately? There is great reward in just reconciling, say nothing of the reward of regaining a friend, renewing a relationship and entering peace with that person again. Is there anyone in your life God would have you reconnect with? Ask forgiveness of? Apologize to? Listen to? Or just laugh with?
We need more people to rejoice with, don’t you think?