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Do You Love to Fish?

May 2, 2017 No Comment
Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

by Glenn E. Schaeffer

My friend, Roger Miller, died a few years ago after a lengthy fight with cancer, but he died “convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Roger loved to fish. One of my fondest fishing memories involving Roger occurred when he and I, with our friend, Tom, were fishing Truman’s Reservoir in Missouri. We had been fishing all day without a nibble. Late in the afternoon storm clouds rolled in and the fish began to bite. The rainstorm approached rapidly. There were cracks of lightning and thunder rumbled. Common sense screamed, “Stop fishing and head for a safe place!” but common sense and fishermen determined to catch fish don’t always go together. Finally, after one lightning bolt a little too close for comfort, we pulled anchor and headed back.

The problem? We were miles away from the launch site and we were navigating our way back on a lake none of us had ever fished. Roger ran his Bass Tracker at full throttle. Tom, an experienced navigator, tried to make sense of the map we had of the lake and directed Roger accordingly. Suddenly, the boat sputtered and stopped. The gas tank was empty! Fortunately, Roger had a spare full tank of gas, but the gas line was flooded as he attempted to restart the motor. As the wind and waves pounded the boat…as the lightning and thunder advanced…Roger looked at Tom and me and he said, “Let’s all do what we are good at! I will get this boat going! Tom, you figure out how we navigate our way back to home; and Glenn: well…you pray. That’s what you’re good at!”

Roger loved to fish. You see, Roger took to heart the words of Jesus, “I will make you a fisher-of-men.” As much as Roger loved to fish for walleye and bass, he delighted even more in “fishing for people” and teaching other people how to “fish”!  I know. Roger taught me to love “fish” and how to “fish.”

I first got to know Roger when I was a first year student at the seminary. I thought I knew it all. I had spent the previous four years at Concordia, Ann Arbor preparing myself for seminary. I could translate the Bible from the Greek and Hebrew. I had already read Walther’s Law and Gospel and the Book of Concord at least two times each. While at Concordia Theological Seminary, I was privileged to study under some of the most knowledgeable Luther scholars in the world, but it was Roger (a man with no degrees after his name) who taught me to love “fish” and how to “fish.”

It is said that, “There are two types of fishermen—those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.” Truthfully, until I met Roger, I think I was a “fisher-of-men” who “fished” for sport. Roger “fished for fish.” Roger loved people and his passion was that every single person he came into contact with would know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Roger didn’t care if the person was rich or poor, a plumber or a physician, Roger “cast the nets of the Gospel” and people were drawn to Christ. Roger spoke of his Lord whether at work or in the hospital or in his fishing boat. Roger didn’t use fancy theological jargon when talking about Jesus. Roger simply spoke of Jesus—His life, His death, His resurrection, and the forgiveness and hope we have in Him.

Roger lived what Martin Luther instructed of all Christians: “Each one, according to his calling and position, obtains the right and the power of teaching and confessing before others this Word, which we have obtained from Him. Even though not everybody has the public office and calling, every Christian has the right and the duty to teach, instruct, admonish, comfort, and rebuke his neighbor with the Word of God at every opportunity and whenever necessary” (LW 13:333).

Even though not everybody has the public office and calling, every Christian has the right and the duty to teach, instruct, admonish, comfort, and rebuke his neighbor with the Word of God at every opportunity and whenever necessary.

Roger was a man who loved to “fish”!  Thank you, Roger, for teaching me how to “fish”!

“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – Jesus

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Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.