Dave Hsu discussed during his communion message about a dark time in his life when things were tough and he lost his relationship with God. He eluded to a recent similar message, where Chase Denieux shared how things dramatically changed in just 1 week for him. Dave was angry with God and it took far longer to rediscover his faith and turn everything around.

I think we all go through these ebbs and flows in our faith. Some find a scripture or have a candid talk with a brother or sister to get back on the path. One might have a significant experience or family health scare. Others may find God in nature like I do. I’ve been to countless oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds and it never fails to remind me of the creator of these places.    

When I was 5 years old my grandfather started taking me fishing each week. He let me use all of his equipment, bait my hooks, and teach me to carefully reel in whatever we caught. More importantly, he taught me how to be patient, and how to have an adventure in hunting for whatever we were after, and to appreciate nature. Some of my favorite memories are those times. Later in his life, before he died,  wherever we went he’d use my equipment and I’d bait his hooks. My grandmother ate everything we caught, but interestingly, neither he nor I learned to enjoy the taste of seafood, and I still give them all away or release them. I also remember earlier adventures. when as 12 year olds, Tim Snover and I biked 20 miles from Hopatcong to Long Valley to fish for wild trout in the stream that ran through his aunt’s farm, then it started snowing. We left our sodas in the freezing cold water and when we had lunch, I went to grab the sodas and Tim tackled me and pulled me away. A camouflaged Water Moccasin was laying against the cans. Another time I was fishing alone on a dock, and I reeled in a rare Golden Trout during a heavy storm. I’ll never forget the rain glistening off this fish, as it was glowing like the sun. Another trout a few weeks later won me the Knee Deep Club’s top prize of a $100 (in the 70’s, that was a lot of money for a preteen).

As much as I still love it, I’ve grown to appreciate watching others enjoyment of catching their first fish or something amazing. I’ve shared this interest with many friends and family over the years. I cherish the photos of my children holding up prized catches when they were younger. I even once tried my hand at boat ownership. I found an inexpensive 20 foot version with a rickety trailer. I spent a small fortune making it comfortable and ocean-worthy, however one of the first times out with my young family, my inexperience caused me to break the axel trying to pull in out of the water, and it sunk. Another small fortune to get it back running, and I was ready to get rid of it. Soon after I was baptized though, a church friend, Foster Stanback asked if we could go shark fishing. I reluctantly agreed, as this was an older, smallish boat for ocean night fishing. Foster loved the adventure and he invited 8 additional people (unknowing to me) that met us at dusk at the marina. These guys had brought gallons of blood and bait, and Carlos Hernandez had some sort of device that is called a “bang stick” that kills a shark when you jab it in the head. All I could think of was this rickety old boat with way too many people on it sinking with all that blood and bait in the water. Anyway, we didn’t sink or catch a shark, but it’s one of those unforgettable experiences that builds your faith in God.    

Today was Tony’s part 3 of 4 on “HOPE when it’s hard” series. I took a bunch of notes at church and somehow I deleted them during the transfer to my computer. I do remember PS 33:22 had our theme scripture of… May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Basically, during life’s hardest times, where do we put our trust? It’s so easy to fall back to seeking worldly solutions when things seem hopeless, instead of relying on God. When that happens, I grab a rod and head to the water and connect with him.     Have a great week !