Dr. James L. Snyder
It has been a busy week, more so than any other week. Just when I thought I was caught up, something else presented itself without my permission.
That seems to be what life is all about. I remember my father telling me when I complained to him how busy my life was and how my employer wanted me to do a lot of work, "Son, that's life.
To be sure, he was right. My father has been right many times, and if only I would have listened to him, I would not have experienced some of the problems that I did. Just don’t let him know I said that.
In the middle of trying to sort out my mess this week, I sat back in my chair, took a deep sigh, and then noticed my old fishing rod in my office corner.
It has been there ever since we moved into this house. I forgot that it was there, and as I looked at it, I remembered some of the times I had with that old fishing rod.
I smiled and thought to myself, "If only that fishing rod could talk," what stories could the fishing rod tell?
As a young person, I spent a lot of time fishing. My grandfather taught me the art of fishing. He was a great fisherman and had many great stories about his fishing adventures.
I remember one day I spent fishing with him. That night around the kitchen table, he began telling about his fishing exploits. I sat there listening in awe. The stories he told had nothing to do with the day we spent together fishing.
He would look at me in the middle of the story and say, "Ain't that so?" Of course, I am never going to contradict my grandfather. I know that I will be in his shoes one day, and I want to make sure I have earned the right to wear them.
Enthusiastically nodding my head, I would say, "It sure is, grandpa." He would smile and go on with the story.
Looking back, I wished I had taken notes of all his stories. It would have been a fascinating book to read, I am sure.
It is not that fishermen tell lies; they rearrange the truth. What good is the truth unless you can embellish it to the entertainment of those listening?
My grandfather certainly entertained people with his stories. I never knew if people believed his stories or not; nobody ever contradicted him. They listened, laughed, and enjoyed every story he told.
One time, after one of his storytelling episodes, we were out in the garage working on some of his fishing equipment. We were alone, so I thought it might be a good time to get the scoop on what he was doing.
"Grandpa," I said thoughtfully, "where do you get all of those stories about fishing that you tell us?"
He looked at me, laughed most heartily, and said, "I get all those fishing stories from going out to the creek and fishing."
Then he looked at me, winked, and said, "Just, remember. There is some truth in every story I tell. It's up to the listener to figure out what is true and what is not." Then he let a burst of hearty laughter.
With a solemn look on his face, he continued, "The thing about fishing is not simply catching fish, but entertaining your family and friends with what you could've done if it went your way."
As I was sitting in my office looking at my fishing rod, I begin to understand for the first time what my grandpa was trying to say.
I spent a little time reflecting on some of grandpa's stories, and even now, I was chuckling. His stories never get old, and my laughter never goes away.
One of the things I learned from my grandfather in connection with fishing is that you have to make the most out of everything you do.
I remember a friend who went fishing and came back grouchy and complained that he did not catch anything. He wasn't fun to be around, to be sure. All he could think about was what he did not do.
My grandpa was quite different.
"Did I tell you," grandpa would begin a story, "about the fish that got away?" He never waited for a response but went directly into the story, and every time he told that story, the fish got just a little bit bigger.
Everybody would laugh and enjoy the story almost as much as grandpa did telling it.
The fish that got away was more important to my grandpa than the fish he caught and brought home. Once you bring the fish home, cook it and eat it, that is its end. But the fish that got away is a story that goes on and on.
I never could figure out if my grandpa was lying or just exaggerating. Being my grandfather, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and just reminisced about his stories.
Thinking about my grandpa's stories, I remembered something that Jesus said. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
My grandpa could exaggerate his fishing stories for the enjoyment of everybody listening. When it comes to real truth, the only truth that matters is Jesus Christ. Only His truth can really set us free.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.