Frustrating Fishless Fishing


Matthew 4:19, “Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

“Don’t cook dinner.  I will come back and grill some fresh fish.”  I confidently told my wife, as I kissed her on the cheek before dashing outside.  My friend and I had planned to go fishing that day.  I had prepared my fishing rod, and had purchased some worms for bait.  I had put on the right attire, as it was going to be a hot, sunny Saturday.  I filled the cooler box with sodas and Gatorade bottles.  I got into the truck, and off we drove, towards Sprague Lake in Washington State.  I was both expectant, and unsure how the day would go.

Upon our arrival at the lake, we cast our lines into the lake.  The lake was silent.  There were a handful of fishing boats around the lake.  I sat on the cooler box, holding my fishing rod over the edge of the boat.  My friend faced the other way, as we talked about our families and work.  The fish did not but much.  Once in a while, I would feel a tag on my line, I would reel it in.  Only to find weeds hanging on the hook.  We shifted sides.  My friend drove the boat onto various spots around the lake.  The lake was stingy, unwilling to give up the location of the fish.  An hour into the expedition, I began to get antsy and anxious.

I interrupted heaven with many silent prayers.  I called the fish, as if they could hear me from under the water. For long periods, I kind of got lost in my search for answers.  My mind wandered in the jungles of worry and anxiety.  After half a dozen hours of unfruitful fishing, we had to throw in the towel. I had to lay aside the fictitious fisherman image of myself to come to terms with my shortcomings.  I faced the reality that I would be returning home empty handed.  This sense of defeat was overwhelming, and embarrassing.  However, I found consolation in the thought that many a fisherman had also endured the pain of a fishless day on a lake.  We concluded, it was wiser to accept the failure than to spend 6 more hours seeking a catch. Like a losing dog who walks home with its tail between its legs, we packed up and started the long drive home.

Rutendo had not prepared dinner. She awaited my return home with fresh fish to grill.  I saw to it I returned home with some fish!  I made sure I grilled some fish that evening.  It was fish I did not catch, though.  On our way home, we had stopped at Safeway to purchase some frozen fish.   For some unknown reasons, I did not catch any fish that day.  I have caught many fish before and after that fateful hot July Saturday.  It just was not our day to catch some fish. I was discouraged, but just for a moment.  That has not stopped me from seeking more fish.

Fishers of men

For three years, Jesus demonstrated to the disciples how to fish for people. Jesus showed how to prepare for the fishing, where to fish, and how to fish.  He reminded them to be vigilant, even in the presence of denial and opposition. Witnessing and evangelism scare many Christians.  Christians often feel ill-equipped to witness.  Christians are scared.  They are afraid of rejection.    They are afraid of a fishless day on the lake.  But that should not stop you from fishing.  Keep praying for the lost.  Keep finding ways of engaging the lost.  Be mindful of opportunities to win over the lost through your verbal and relational messages. Keep fishing!

  • Describe a day you struggled to catch fish.
  • Have you ever spent a fruitless day working hard on a project? How was that?
  • How do you feel when God seems silent?
  • Describe a time you spoke to someone about Jesus?
  • Have you ever preached the Gospel to someone? How was it?
  • How do you feel when people shut the door on your message?
  • What stops you from being a fisher of people?
  • What do you need to do to overcome that challenge?

2 thoughts on “Frustrating Fishless Fishing

  1. I always love reading these, It reminds me that either way we do not give up. I have plenty of those days. Encouraging 🙂


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