On a brisk spring morning in the small mountain community of Circleville, Utah, my father hooked his silver Chevrolet pickup truck onto his 14-foot aluminum boat and began to drive to Otter Creek Reservoir about 20 miles away. Local rumors told of excellent fishing, and he was excited to get out on the lake.
About a year earlier, he had purchased the small aluminum boat for that very purpose. The boat was nothing special, but it was easy to handle and dependable. The boat was powered by a clean and smooth-running 15-horsepower Mercury outboard.
As he pulled into the dock to unload his boat, the lake was glass. There was not a sign of wind or foul weather and his spirits were high. He dropped the boat into the water, parked his truck and then climbed into the boat.
He sat down in the captain’s seat, attached the gas can to the engine, primed it and began to pull the starter cord. Normally the dependable engine started after about three pulls, but not this morning. He adjusted the choke, pulled a few more times and nothing. Not a single pop on the small two-stroke engine.
He removed the top cover and inspected it, only to find that everything looked how it should look. He replaced the cover and attempted to start the engine again to no avail. After several attempts, he concluded that the engine wasn’t going to start, so reluctantly he packed his gear back into his truck, pulled the boat out of the water and headed back to his home in Circleville. He was disappointed that his fishing trip was canceled but realized that things don’t always go as planned.
Twenty minutes later he pulled into the drive of his house and found the love of his life, my perfectionist mother, pulling weeds around the yard. He unloaded his gear, explained what happened and walked into the house for an edifying afternoon of daytime television.
As my father began to settle into his recliner, my mother walked into the house. Her face was pale and something didn’t seem right. My father asked her if she was OK and her reply was a quiet, “I don’t think so.”
She complained of a burning sensation under her arms, and upon further inspection, it was evident that my mother was having a heart attack. Due to the blessing of a canceled fishing trip, my father was able to race my mother to the nearest hospital for critical treatment, and her life was spared.
As I reflect and ponder over the miracle of my father’s canceled fishing trip, my heart is filled with gratitude and I am reminded that this is not the first time God has canceled fishing trips out of love for his children.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, as told in the book of Matthew in the New Testament, two brothers, Peter and Andrew, were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee when a man named Jesus called out to them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Without hesitation, they left their nets and followed.
Jesus then asked two other fishermen, James and John, to follow. They too, without hesitation, canceled their planned fishing trip and followed. Little did they know that their canceled fishing trips would be the beginning of their own sacred apostolic ministries to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Sometimes in life, our plans change unexpectedly, whether it is an unexpected cancellation of a fishing trip, a job loss or unexpected change in general. These cancellations can be hard at times, and often we find ourselves wondering why. Perhaps we are even angered or hurt because the change doesn’t align with what we assume is best for us.
At these moments of challenge, instead of shaking our fists at heaven in anger, let us resign our positions as self-appointed controllers of our own destiny, leave our nets and let he who sees the big picture work the miracle of a canceled fishing trip in our own lives.
Dave Riddle is a graduate of Southern Utah University and is a professional engineer at Jones and DeMille Engineering, a civil engineering firm in Richfield, Utah EMAIL: [email protected]