At Mammoth Mountain, the activity I was looking forward to the most was fishing. I was so excited to bring this newfound passion to the people that were going to be going with me that I prepared many rigs in preparation for the event and somewhat viewed all other activities as a less profound usage of time. However, when the time finally came for us to go fishing, the day’s exploits brought out the worst in me, exposing me to the darkness that still remained.
Before we even fished, I already started hinting that I didn’t want them to be arrogant and think they knew everything – which, in hindsight, is just another kind of naïve enthusiasm – and warned them about listening to instruction. In this, I was far more arrogant than my teacher was; given the opportunity to teach, I let it consume me and thus assumed the position of a teacher and not a fellow student. My attitude in teaching was less patient than it could have been because I expected the fishing to be fairly straightforward given my “many” experiences with pier fishing. However, the rest of the day would be telling in disciplining me and fixing my attitude.
Not too long after casting out lines, I found that the rocks at the bottom of the lake were frustratingly easy for me to catch my hooks on. So, I waded out, letting my shorts get wet to wiggle the hooks out from the crannies that they were stuck in. This worked well, I managed to get solid footing on the rocks that existed in the pond, exclaiming now and then due to sharp rocks in the sand below. However, there was one instance where I slipped and fell on my side in the water, soaking me up to my shoulder on my left side. To rub salt in my wounds, a ship full of tourists passed by and the passengers on the boat witnessed the tragic strike to my pride. Someone exclaimed and I heard some jeering and laughing. With my figurative tail between my legs, I stood up, soaked, and tried grimly to keep on keeping on.
We spent a full two or three hours before we were greeted by our parents for lunch. At this time, I was mentally and physically worn down from teaching my friends how to fish, and began feeling my patience wearing thin. They were doing well at tying knots, but some fundamental aspects of setting up the rod were lacking. Finally, a mistake was made that let the line get unraveled and tangled beyond anything a beginner (but posing as an expert) fisherman could handle, and I lost my cool, sighing numerous times and shaking my head slightly now and then. How would anyone want to continue fishing after seeing this discouraging display?
After a few more hours spent staring haplessly at the lake, I began realizing that this wasn’t how my teacher taught me. He bore with me in patience and with matching enthusiasm. After understanding that I had not brought them up the same way that he had, I prayed by the lakeside for forgiveness for my arrogance. In praying that, however, I was also aware of the fact that it could have been a prayer disguised as a secret bargain for God to provide us with a fish. I therefore asked God to somehow lead me to be humble and not be so full of self. Soon after, one of my church friends caught a trout, and I moved to unhook it. In all this, I understood what God was telling me; there was no greater lesson in humility than having someone else catch a fish as I stood empty-handed.
To be honest, I was a bit bitter about the fact that my friend received so much praise without attributing it to a good teacher, but I realized here that it was again that arrogance rising within me. Although I mentioned having a great teacher when I caught a fish, I was struck by the fact that there was no need for my friend to say so. Short on patience, mutual enthusiasm, and grace, I fell short of many things that should have been reflected in a Christian life. This trip showed me a lot of how much glory I desired for myself and not for Him, and also how much darkness still remained within. I understood that though I loved fishing, that love was not a godly love that would be willing to share, but a human love that was fiercely and wrongly jealous. Lord, help me to love with a love like Yours for all things, be it hobbies, people, or the world.