The Gospel stories are replete with experiences associated with fishing.
At that time, and in the places around the Mediterranean Sea where the events of the New Testament happened, much of the protein eaten by the common people came from fish. Everyone knew about fishing; how to do it, where to do it, how to prepare the fish, when the best times for sustainable fishing were, and how to build and maintain boats. It was the area's major industry.
Had there been at that time reality television shows about food, or quiz shows, then the topic of 'fish' and 'fishing' would have been top of the popularity polls. Jesus obviously knew about fishing. The show would have a been a major hit.
No wonder then, that the fishing villages by the shores of the sea were places where Jesus went to talk to the 'ordinary people' and to choose His disciples from that group.
Perhaps one of the most illustrative phrases in the Bible came from Jesus when he said: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." He was relating the disciples' known expertise in finding fish, to say to them that they would be just as effective at finding men - but instead of catching them, they would be teaching others God's principles for life and of Salvation.
To show them He had authority to do this, Jesus also advised them in their fishing technique. After the disciples had been out fishing in the boat without a catch without a catch all night, Jesus advised a quantum change in attitude, when he said to them: "Throw your nets on the other side ." The numbers of sermons on this story in all its applications throughout the ages are legion.
Fishing is one of Australia's largest recreational activities and at some time almost everyone has tried their hand at it. The humour associated with fishing is also legend, not the least the financial aspects whereby the "bait and tackle" shop owner knows a "thing or two" as to who does best out the fishing experience.
Recreational fishing has many therapeutic benefits some of which may not be as obvious as others. I recall as a twelve-year old on a camping holiday with my family beside a lake near Yass in New South Wales, that fishing was the order of the day. Hundreds of thousands of young people have enjoyed this kind fishing with either family or friends.
Anywhere in or around Australia where there is a river or a coastline, you will see people fishing. Some years ago, while attending a Moruya Chamber of Commerce meeting, a local journalist told the story of somehow the newspaper missed publishing the tidal charts.
They were so totally inundated with complaints over this oversight, more than anything that entire year, that they never again left out the tidal charts. Moruya is on the NSW south coast.
There are radio segments on fishing, there are numerous very popular fishing magazines that can be picked up in any newsagency and over the past several decades a series of television programs. Where would we be without them?
A mate has a two-man tinny and out he goes with his eldest son or a mate to Midgeton Island or just outside the Laguna Quays Marina or along the nearby O'Connell River and has "a ball". He's a good fisherman.
I offer some suggestions as to why recreational fishing is so therapeutic.
There is nothing like being out on the water, away from the issues that engulf everyone, every day.
Fishing provides a place not only of solitude, also of solace, peace and reflection. Fishing is not only, an activity, rather it is 'a place', in a sense it is a 'state of mind'.
Recreational fishing also provides a victory.
There are not many places today where someone, Mr and Mrs Ordinary, can claim a victory. Catching fish is a satisfying experience, especially when they are not biting too much.
This is a wonderful expression of catching ones breath in the midst of the overwhelming struggles of life to finally come up with something positive, tangible and totally of one's own doing.
For many people in the turmoil's of life, it may be their only sense of victory.
Jesus understood the nature of fishing. Catching men for Christ is no easy thing, it requires a sense of peace and calm and a tender touch on the line when the fish nibbles at the bait.
It is to this message that the followers of Jesus are encouraged to consider when chatting to someone when somehow the issues of one's eternal destiny are raised.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html