God of the Fifth Cast

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Throughout July we’re taking an in-depth look at Proverbs, the Bible’s one-of-a-kind book about our never-ending need for wisdom.

In his book Called to Lead, Dan Allender recounts the time that he, his wife, and their 10-year-old son Andrew traveled to Montana, where he was speaking at a conference.

Having been inspired by the father-son connections in the movie A River Runs Through It, Dan decided to take Andrew fishing in one of the local lakes. 

For three consecutive days they hit the water just after lunch.  They caught nothing.  That’s when a local man who had over 50 years’ experience approached him.

“I see you’ve been taking your son out to fish.”
“Yes, sir, I have.”
“Also noticed you haven’t caught anything.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Do you know that fish don’t usually bite between 1:00 and 3:30?” 
“No sir, I didn’t know that.”
“Do you want your boy to catch a fish?”
“Absolutely. Yes.”
“Then what I want you to do is be out here at 5:30 tomorrow morning.”

The next morning, Andrew and I went out at 5:30.  By 7:45, we hadn’t caught a thing.  I had told my wife we’d be back in at 8:00, so I said to Andrew, “We gotta go in.”  Inside, I was ticked at God that he could part the Red Sea but he wouldn’t provide my son with one lousy fish.  Andrew looked at me plaintively and said, “Please, Dad.  Just one more time?” 

Inside, I was raging, but I sensed the Spirit of God saying to me, Do you want to kill hope in your son?  I looked at Andrew and said, “You can cast five more times.”

The first cast went out.  Then the second.  And the third.  With each cast I prayed, “Oh Lord, please let him have a fish!”  By the fourth cast I was back to thinking, Why should I hope?

I began to pull on the oars as Andrew threw his line out for the fifth time.  All of a sudden he was yelling, “Dad! Stop!”  I turned around and saw that his pole was bent over.  For the next five or six minutes, he fought to bring in his fish.  When we finally got the fish into the boat, it turned out to be a big northern pike.  It was a phenomenal moment – probably one of the most important moments of my life as a father. 

As we neared the shore, Andrew said to me, “Dad, we have a God, don’t we?” 
“Yeah. Yeah, we do.”
After another moment Andrew said, “Dad, I know God’s name.”
“What do you mean, Andrew?”
“God’s name is ‘the God of the Fifth Cast.’”

A remarkable percentage of life is waiting. 

We wait to hear news from our most recent job interview.  From the doctor who’s evaluating our scans.  From the new acquaintance we hope will want to go out on a second date.   From the estranged family member who no longer responds to our texts.   

We wait to hear from God.  Will he answer our prayers?  Will he provide guidance for our next step?  Does he even remotely care what we’re facing right now? 

We wait for something to happen.  For someone’s heart to melt.  For someone’s mind to change.  For something to give us a sign that everything’s going to be OK. 

Because we serve the God of the Fifth Cast, we don’t lose heart – even when the first, second, and third lines we’ve dropped into the water have given us little reason to keep on hoping.

Proverbs 25:15 is one of the great “patience” verses in the Bible:  “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue can break bones.” (New Revised Standard Version)  Other translations and paraphrases help shine a light on the implications of these words:  “Be patient and you will finally win, for a soft tongue can break hard bones.” (The Living Bible)  “Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.” (The Message

It’s ludicrous to think that a soft tongue can break bones.  On the other hand, how incredible is it that streams of water can carve canyons out of solid rock? 

All we need is time.  And patience. 

The author of this proverb was convinced that even a “ruler” could be converted to a new way of seeing things.  In a period of history in which autocratic governance was assumed, a changed mind was a very big deal. 

Today you may be waiting.  And suffering.  And feeling very alone. 

Don’t lose heart, even after your fourth cast has come back empty.

We serve the God of the Fifth Cast.