My husband, Mark, is an expert fisherman. Somewhere in the depths of our messy garage, there is a neatly organized tackle box. This box contains a wide variety of plastic worms, lures, spinners, and all manner of shiny, glittery things that fish like. Some of them even have an odor! Mark knows exactly which bait to use for which fish, and he almost always comes home with a successful catch.
I like to fish, too. But I’m not an expert. Me? Just put a little bacon or bread on the hook, and drop in the line. And I almost always catch a little perch or something. That suits me just fine. I have no desire to develop the knowledge it would take to reach my husband’s skill level. That would be too much work!
Once upon a time, however, many moons ago, when Mark and I were still newlyweds, I got lucky. We went fishing together. Mark scoped out the creek, found the perfect fishing spot, and got out his fancy rod and reel. He spent several minutes choosing from his massive supply of plastic worms and lures. He was determined to catch a bass. Not just any bass, either. He wanted a trophy bass.
I, on the other hand, grabbed a cane pole with a little treble hook, wadded up some white bread, and molded it to the end. We fished for a long time, me with my little bread hook, him with his fancy gear. And time and again, I felt a little yank on my hook, and pulled in perch after perch. Every time, Mark congratulated me. He wasn’t jealous. He didn’t care about perch. He wanted a bass.
I threw each of the perch back. They were too cute (little) to keep! And each time, within minutes, I caught another one. Come to think of it, I may have caught the same one over and over! Honestly, I was starting to get bored with the whole thing. I decided to challenge my husband.
“I’m clearly a better fisherman than you are,” I told him.
“Yes, Honey. You are,” he replied with that tone. You know the tone. The tone that said one thing out loud but an entirely different thing beneath the surface.
“I’ll bet I can catch a bass before you do.”
“Do you want me to set you up with a different rod and reel?’ he asked. Why did he have to be so nice? He didn’t think I could do it. Well, I’d show him.
“No. I’m doing just fine with my cane pole.”
Mark laughed, and the challenge was on. For me, anyway. He clearly wasn’t worried. I mean, come on. He could at least play along, pretend like he saw me as a threat.
Within moments I felt a little tug on my line. Another perch. The smallest one yet.
“Congratulations, Honey! You caught another perch!” he said in that tone.
I ignored him. That’s no perch, I thought to myself. That’s bait. I left the perch on the hook. I’d show him.
I walked down the bank a little ways, found a dark spot with a limb sticking out (didn’t Mark say something about bass liking structure and shade?) and dropped my perch into the water.
Within moments, I felt another tug on my line. Only this wasn’t a perch tug. No-siree. This was something altogether different!
I yanked my pole back, and attached to the end of it was a beautiful, five-pound bass!
Now, I know you think I’m making this up, but I’m not. It really happened, just that way. I called for Mark, and he came running. I didn’t know what to do with that giant fish flopping around on the end of my line. I only knew how to handle perch.
I watched my fisherman-husband remove the trophy from the line. “You did it. I don’t believe it. You really did it,” he said.
I couldn’t believe it either. I guess I showed him. I gave him a big ol’ dose of humility. I was clearly the better fisherman.
Then again, maybe not. Since that time, my expert husband has caught many, many bass, and he’s got a wall full of trophies to prove it. I’ve only caught maybe one or two more, usually when my dear husband baited the hook and cast the line for me. So, maybe I was the one who needed to be humbled.
Today, my family is going fishing, and the challenge is on. As we speak, Mark is packing his fancy gear into the car, and I’ve got my loaf of bread. And I’ll bet you a quarter I’ll catch more perch than he catches bass.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6.