A few weeks ago I traveled to the beautiful part of Western North Carolina for a prayer retreat. Many things are happening with family, friends, personal, etc and hearing Mary Kassian definitely was a highlight (as well as just being in North Carolina).
My brother is a fantastic writer. I love how he writes about another good state, Florida. I know he loves to fish with my grandfather, so I asked him to write a little blurb about cast net fishing. You'll soon see how the two tie together:
Cast netting is an art form from making it, to throwing it, to eating the treasures that lie underneath. My grandpa and his fishing buddies taught me this art form. It wasn’t easy, but I was motivated to learn it because it was one of those traditions that unless my generation learns it will be gone forever.
Making a cast net is hard work. There’s no other way to put it. Your fingers cramp. Your back aches from hunching over the linen net. You mind wanders causing you to screw up a knot and then have to either cut it out or spend the next 30 minutes untangling the knot. It is tedious. But once you are finished a sense of satisfaction follows because now, as a fellow cast netter said, you’ll be able to put food on the table if the need arises.
Throwing a cast net is something beautiful to behold. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the best at it. Others that go on mullet fishing trips have such a fluid motion that they look akin to a grungy camouflaged Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It—which in our case should be A Back Bay Runs Through It. The nets sings off their shoulder, down their scrawny forearms, through their sinewy fingers, and onto the salt water in the likeness of making pizza dough.
Once the net hits the water the weights drag it to the bottom covering what you hope is a few black mullet. And you’ll know right quick if they are under there, because they’ll begin jumping just like they do without a net over them. From here, goodness and excitement seep into your bones like a warm Florida night. You gently kneel in the water grabbing each mullet with your cramped hands, and break their neck so as to drain the blood hereby preserving the meat and preventing it from getting a strong odor. Once you’ve done that to all the mullet under the net, you’ll place them on a stringer that is hopefully getting full.
Although the mullet are still now, your stomach is jumping knowing that soon and very soon you’ll taste their scrumptious meat after a long day of mullet hunting.
Cast net fishing for mullet is much like prayer. And the weights and burdens. Here are the similarities:
1. Its hard work. It is a discipline. My fmr pastor, J. D. Greear, always says that no one brags about their prayer life - but if you really wanna know how someone is doing spiritually - ask them about it. I know a couple good "pray-ers" in my life - and they have been a blessing to me - but they also know it is hard work.
2. Prayer is a weighty thing. This is where I camped out for a while. The weights and burdens I carry are heavy - not as heavy as some, but these things are important to me and to my family and friends. Hymns of old speak of this:
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
Scripture speaks of this: Ps 55.22a:
Cast your burden on the Lord,and he will sustain you.
3. Prayer is an exciting thing. I remember well the thrill of catching fish. I also remember well the thrill when God answers prayers in such dynamic ways. Yes, of course, I like it better (at the time) when God answers the way I see fit - but how much better it is in the long wrong when He answers as He sees fit.
4. Prayer is a continual thing. I remember when my Papa and his friends would bring home tons of mullet to smoke. Those mullet didn't come from one casting. They came from casting after casting after casting. What rang true with me that wknd at the prayer conference is that God does not grow weary of my asking. He will never tire of me coming to him with my requests. He doesn't think it too large of a thing for him to manage: my cares, burdens, and weights.
I do not pray like I should. I have tried to be more Ps 34.1 in my prayers lately. Even driving across town this morning - the sky dark from looming storm clouds at 7:30am - just voicing praise that the skies declare His praise.
I wish I prayed more - but that requires hard work. And when I don't see answers (I've been praying some prayers for over 10 years now and still have gotten a "no"), I grow weary or just stop altogether.
Right now, I'm praying specifically for 3 personal matters, 1 family matter, and 1 friend matter. Those are the big things - then there is the daily stuff.
I am so thankful that my God is so much bigger than me, stronger than any net to catch mullet in, and that He never grows tired of hearing (or reading) my prayers.