It’s a cartoon I’ve smiled at again and again.
There are two Eskimos sitting on chairs, fishing through holes in the ice. The fella on the right has draped his line through your typical disk-like opening . . . about the size of a small manhole.
The Eskimo on the left has his line in the water too. He also waits calmly for a nibble. His hole, however, is more like a crater, a Rose Bowl-sized opening that reaches to the horizon—in the shape of a whale.
Now that’s what I call vision.
Smile all you please, but you gotta hand it to that Eskimo on the left. He’s ready! You can be sure that his fellow fisherman thinks he’s a nut. He might even be mumbling words of criticism, like:
“How greedy can you get?”
Or “Man, talk about a showoff!”
But there’s one thing he must admit about his buddy, he’s thinking big! The time he spent preparing for the catch was both extensive and tiring—he probably wore out three saws hacking and chewing through all that frozen stuff. But there is nothing that tugs on his line—and I mean nothing—that he won’t be able to handle. From the very start of the project, the man has been visionary.
Vision becomes contagious. You can’t sit very long beside a fisherman like that without enlarging your own hole in the ice. Something down inside us admires a person who stretches our faith by doing things that are filled with vision. Initially such actions might appear to be foolish. That occurs when we don’t know the facts behind the action.
For example, I heard some time ago about a couple of nuns who worked as nurses in a hospital. They ran out of gas while driving to work one morning. A service station was nearby but had no container in which to put the needed gasoline. One of the women remembered she had a bedpan in the trunk of the car. The gas was put into the pan and they carried it very carefully back to the car. As the nuns were pouring the gasoline from the bedpan into the gas tank, two men were driving by. They stared in disbelief. Finally, one said to the other,
“Now Fred, that’s what I call faith!”
It appeared to be foolish. Trouble was, those doubters just didn’t have the facts. And were they ever surprised when those nuns went ripping by them on the freeway!
So much of what we undertake lacks vision. We cut our tiny holes in the ice and make plans to go home cold and hungry. And then if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves criticizing and scoffing at those who, as Luis Palau puts it, dream great dreams and plan great plans. “Sensationalists,” we call them. Or worse—”foolish.”
Jesus, however, when he called Andrew and Simon, promised:
“Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”(Mark 1:17)
The two fishermen probably thought too small. I gather this idea because Dr. Luke records their reaction the time they caught two boatloads of fish. They were dumbfounded! But Jesus replied with insight:
“Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”(Luke 5:10)
It seems as though Jesus realized their inborn “fear” of something sizable. He challenged them, “Don’t be uneasy. With My help, you’ll catch people just like you caught these fish.”
How long has it been since you’ve punched a hole in the ice and thrown out a line? Sure, it may mean “breaking the ice” with “pre-Christian” neighbors or colleagues at work—getting beyond the slick surface stuff like the weather and sports and the condition of your lawn. It may mean investing some time, taking some risks, and putting out some effort in practical acts of loving compassion. Fishing for men and women is no casual thing.
Are you expecting success? Listen to Joe Aldrich:
For many, the first step in neighborhood evangelism is attitudinal. If they think they will be successful or unsuccessful, they’re right. What we anticipate in life is usually what we get. If you say, “I can’t do it,” you’re probably right, especially if you firmly believe you can’t. God says you can. Who do you intend to believe? . . . It’s true, where there is no vision, people(your neighbors)perish.
Take another mental glimpse at those two Eskimos. Be honest now. Which hole are you fishing in?