Gone Fishing!

Why am I not happy? What does a prosperous life look like?

Standing at the end of the pier, gazing at the beautiful blue expanse in front of him, the puffy white clouds above, the tourist breathed the pure air deeply and sighed in pleasure.

“Yep, it is all worth it,” he thought. He could travel wherever he wanted and enjoy what others couldn’t. The non-stop pressure, the backstabbing, the climb up the ladder, the 24/7 work hours, the race to be Numero Uno—all so worth it. He congratulated himself.

Suddenly, he noticed a small, rustic boat with a poorly clad reclining fisherman docked at the other side of the pier. He walked over to the sleeping man and started to take traditional tourist photos of the man.

Rudely awakened, the fisherman glared at the presumptuous tourist. The tourist made an attempt to recover his rudeness.

“Nice day to go fishing. You’ll make a good catch.”

The fisherman shook his head.

“You’re not feeling well?”

“No, Monsieur. I’ve never felt better. God has blessed my life,. I am a happy man, senor.”

“Yes, yes,” added the tourist dismissively. And then demanded, “But why aren’t you out fishing?”

“Well, Monsieur, I caught what I needed, God has provided for my family and me. Now, I’m enjoying the sun and resting.”

“How much fish did you catch?”

“About four or five lobsters and some dozens of mackerel.”

The tourist looked deeply disturbed.

Wanting to put him at ease, the fisherman replied. “I have plenty for several days.”

“I don’t want to seem interfering. But you’ll catch more fish if you go out two or three or even five more times.”

“But I have enough to care for my family.”

“That’s not a good business plan,” the tourist shook his head superiorly. “What do you do with the rest of your day?”

“I sleep late, go fishing, go to church, read my Bible, pray, spend time with my family, and we have a glass of wine with our friends in the evening and enjoy watching the beautiful sunset.”

The tourist was now more agitated and existent.

“My good man, I am the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I can show you how to be successful and happy in life. If you go out many times a day and catch more fish, you can sell the lot and buy yourself more boats.”

“Then what?” the fisherman responded.

“Well, you can set up a factory and have other people go fishing and sell the fish for you while you make all the profits.”

“Then what?”

“You can become famous, fly around in a helicopter, and spot the schools of fish, and your lobsters will be served in the best restaurants in Paris.”

“Then what?”

“What? What?” The executive was utterly frustrated at the stupidity of the fisherman. “You can sell your whole business for a wonderful profit, become rich, and do what you want.”

“And then?”

“Then you can be free and happy. You can sleep late, go fishing, go to church, read your Bible, pray, spend time with your family, have a glass of wine with your friends in the evening, and enjoy watching the beautiful sunset.”

“But, Monsieur, I’m already doing that,” the fisherman pointed out, pulled his cap over his face, and happily went back to sleep. (Based on a story—Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral by Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) )

Do you feel like the executive tourist or the fisherman?

Whatever a prosperous life may look like on the outside—successful, wealthy, happy—without Christ at the center, it is just an illusion. Deep in their minds, the seemingly successful ask the same question as those who aren’t: Why am I not happy? They know something is missing. As believers, we know the answer to that question. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our divine calling is to place Jesus first in our lives and to live in bold light-heartedness amid every trial so that we are life-renewing magnets to those around us.

-Photo by Y S on Unsplash

John I. Snyder
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