by Tad Lindley
My salmon gear was in particularly bad shape. It had accumulated a lot of holes. Every year I put it away telling myself, “I will mend it when spring comes around and it will be almost like new.” Then when spring does come it is difficult to get excited about net mending. This year I could not put it off. My gear was so tattered, that it was in danger of being called a “twenty-five fathom rag.” So I invested a couple of days in repairing the torn web, and re-hanging portions of lead line.
Net mending is my least favorite part of fishing. I would much rather be watching corks bob up and down and sipping on tea than trying to repair the aftermath of stumps on the bottom of the Kuskokwim. Because it is slow and quiet, I always end up thinking about net mending in the Bible.
History’s Most Famous Net Menders
Jesus had come across Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. They were throwing their nets into the water. Jesus told them to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. They left their nets right away to become disciples of Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 16-20). A little farther up the beach Jesus came across James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in the boat with their dad and the servants mending nets. Jesus called them. I envision them weighing out this choice: stay here and mend nets or go with Jesus? Hmmm. (0.1 seconds pass) “See you, Dad.”
The Truth About Net Mending
Trust me; it is not hard to walk away from net mending. You can always find someone excited about going drifting with you, but try calling up five friends and telling them, I’m having a net mending party all day Saturday, and the pop and Pilot Bread™ are on me. Suddenly they will become very busy with making sure their watch is set to the atomic clock and other important excuses.
Net mending represents every failure we have ever had in life. A net becomes full of holes for a number of reasons. It rarely gets holes from being successful though. If the fisherman knows how to pick fish, he can get fish out without tearing the net.
The Problem With Your Net
The majority of holes in the net come from getting snagged on the bottom. We get a little to greedy for fish and scoop too close to the bank, or perhaps we overextend our drift into uncharted waters thinking that the net will sink with fish. Instead it sinks with stumps. As we try to pull the net off with the motor we feel that tell tale pop-pop-pop-pop-pop that vibrates through the boat as the meshes tear one by one.
The rest of the holes in my net come from setting out the net. Even though there are no other boats around, I like to lay my net out quickly. Corks tangle in the web, the web catches on anything sticking out on the boat and pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. There it goes again, more holes to mend.
Before many days pass, the once proud net, becomes frayed and worn. When the water is clear enough, fish swim along the net until they find the unmended holes. Then they swim right through. The corks never jiggle and the fisherman pulls up nothing but water.
Our lives become like the net. We are torn and worn from sin. Our mistakes and failings add up over time. There are days where it seems like we can do nothing right.
The Amazing Fact of Mends
Here is the beauty in the old net. When we mend a net, we mend it using a different color than the old. If a net is mended well, the mends actually become the most productive places in the net for catching fish. When a fish swims along the net looking for a way through, it doesn’t see the mend. Because it is a different color, the fish thinks it is a hole and swims right into it.
Jesus can do the same thing with our lives. He can take a life that his been torn apart by multiple marriages, promiscuous living, drug addiction, gambling, anger, depression, and all manner of sin and mend it. Not only that, he can take the alcoholic, deliver her, and make that former hole in her life one of the strongest parts. He can take the abusive spouse and turn him into a peacemaker. There is no end to what Jesus can do when we lay our torn life in his hands. The prophet Joel delivered this powerful promise concerning our former failings: And I will restore to you the years that the locust hast eaten… (2:25). If the web of your life is worn out and full of holes, call on the master net mender, he is waiting to hear from you.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church