So this past Monday night I picked up a friend from the airport who had come into town for a wedding. He crashed at my place that night, and with a whopping 4 hours of sleep under our belts we were up at 5am to head out to the cabin for a day of fishing.
(If you are curious about the title, it has to do with a nick-name given to my friend ages ago.)
Tyson is one of a group of young guys who all used to work at the same store that I now suffer under. From time to time, the whole lot of us would go fishing out at my families cabin. (Fishing is LIFE, you know.) In fact, a couple of years ago, Tyson & I decided to learn how to trout fish. So we just did some online research, bought some poles, and headed down to Lanesborro, MN and taught ourselves. I hadn't seen him in about 2 years I think, so it was really good to reconnect after all that time.
Tyson comes from a very cool family. His folks were missionaries in both Pakistan and Afghanistan for many years. His older brother has been off in Europe doing some mission work. His younger brother is going into the military as an officer. Tyson is active with Scum of the Earth, a church based in Denver that is very socially active. http://www.scumoftheearth.net/ His mom really knows how to cook some good Pakistani food, too.
I bring up Tyson because of the original group of about 6 or 7 guys that used to all go fishing off and on, he is the only one who has stayed with Jesus. The majority of these guys all grew up around Evangelical Christianity, or at least some form of "Religion"...not that that counts for much. (Normally it just serves as some form of inoculation against any true spirituality) However, except for Tyson, the rest have rejected Christ. In fact, one has become an Evangelical Atheist, (Yes, that is an actual term.) and another simply mocks me any time I bring up any hint of God. I am always curious about the how of things, so I am curious as to how it came to be that Tyson stayed faithful, but all the others rejected Jesus.
"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it."
I suppose it helps that Tyson has parents that are down to earth, and not legalistic, stuffy Christians who do a great job giving Jesus a black eye. I think that they made Faith a tangible, hands-on thing that was relevant to day to day living. I don't know them well enough to say much more than that.
I've seen some parents turn faith into a series of hoops to jump through. Others use the bible to justify all types of domineering parenting. One friend of mine has wandered away from the faith because he is politically Liberal, and his mother equates Christianity with following the dictates of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. (Neither of whom are Believers.)
Still, you can't blame the parents ultimately. Each of us has to answer for ourselves when we stand before God. It's not like Jesus will say, "Well, Bob really blew it that time he witnessed to you. So, I guess I'll overlook all those sins you so joyously committed." No. I have to answer for all of my own crap, and you have to answer for yours.
One of the guys who is so adamantly opposed to Christ, has parents who work for a missionary academy. I often wonder what his parents think about this situation. Both he and his brother think that Jesus is a joke.
My friends Tom & Deb lost their only child over a year ago to a brain tumor. He was only 7. As painful as it was to experience that, the one comfort was that we all knew with out a doubt that their son had a passionate love for Jesus. When he passed away, we all knew that he was received into the loving arms of his savior and is now healed and whole.
What is it like for a parent to know that their child, who mocks Jesus, will not spend eternity in the new heaven & earth? What is it like for a parent to know that if their child died today, that that would be the last that they would ever see of them? I have no kids of my own, so I can't experience it first hand, but I don't think I could imagine a worse feeling.
I'm a big believer in the amazing mercy of Christ. He will extend his grace in ways that I can't comprehend. I don't know how God accomplishes his business ultimately...and I'm quite comfortable with that lack of knowledge. I often think that God will be much more forgiving to the "Clueless" than others would be. However, to willfully & joyfully reject Jesus? That's not something I enjoy seeing.
(I've never really understood militant Atheism. What's so great about rejoicing in the idea that there is no real purpose in life, no higher meaning or significance, and that ultimately we are all just worm food? Maybe it's the idea that if there is no God, no supreme being to be held accountable to, then we get to play God...which is what the original sin was all about. Sorry, but that's just my opinion.)
I also know that today is not the end of the story. Who knows what paths these guys will finally take? At the moment, though, it doesn't look very good. Ultimately, it's between them and Jesus. All I can do is pray about the situation.
So Tyson, myself and Rika the Wonder dog, spent about 5 hours fishing. We caught plenty of fish, but only one Keeper. The weather was ideal. The water was perfect for swimming.
It was a lot of fun to just talk about Jesus and the Kingdom. Tyson is one of the most well-read people I know. He has insights into Christianity that most people simply don't have...especially for someone who is still in his early 20s. He "Gets It." It was a good day, and it was good for me. I need to see the faithfulness of God in the lives of his people.
In Ezekiel 47, the prophet has a vision of the new heaven and earth. In it, he is shown a great river flowing from the temple.
"Swarms of living creatures will live where ever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds - like the fish of the great sea."
I'm never sure how much of a prophetic vision is meant to be taken word for word literal, but I do know that the new heaven and earth will have a massive physical component to it. I love the idea that there will be fishing involved. I can only imagine the Keepers that I may haul in out of that river.
I like the thought that I will be able to fish with my family and my friends. (Tyson won't even have to buy an out of State license.) I just wish that all of my friends would want to be a part of this.
P.S. I'm trying to picture what Jesus would look like in a pair of waders.