Monday, March 31, 2008

I Needed That

Starting about 3 weeks ago when we had a pre-spring warm spell, I started looking longingly at my fishing stuff hanging in the garage. Regrettably, I have not done a lot of hunting or fishing in the last year (back surgery and busy schedule hindered these activities). So today…today I changed my schedule and determined to spend THE ENTIRE DAY TROUT FISHING. Oh, let me tell you, it was to be a wonderful day.

I woke up this morning and it was RAINING! Arrrgh! "I’m doing it anyway," I decided. I got all my rain gear and extra clothing together, packed it along with my fly fishing gear and headed down the road toward the Hiwassee river (one of my favorite places in this world). I decided to go all out, so I stopped by Bojangles for one of my favorite indulgences—a country-ham-and-egg biscuit, and discovered that I had left my wallet at home! Arrgh! I emptied out my ashtray (where I keep my loose change), paid for the food, and back-tracked home. 40 minutes after I left home the first time I’m on the rainy road again (after grabbing my spinning rod—just in case) and I realize I don’t have a current hunting/fishing license (it expired March 1)! Arrrgh! So I go to Wally World and pick one up.

"Now," I say to myself, "I’m going fishing." The rain was coming down pretty hard by then but there was no wind. "Nothing’s going to stop me." I was convincing myself that I could fly fish in the cold rain as I pulled up to the little fly-fishing store just a mile from my favorite spot where I could buy some tippet and bead-heads (fly fishing stuff). It was CLOSED! Arrrgh! I knew that the nearest place to buy tippet (which I had to have) was 45 minutes away! "Ok Lord, what’s going on?" I protested out loud. I was feeling sorry for myself. "This is crazy!" I said and got back in my truck. At this point, I decided to go back 5 miles and buy some worms and just fish with my spinning rod. It was still raining. I was not happy. I bought the worms and headed toward my spot again. About 500 yards past the fly-fishing store I was aghast to find that THE ROAD WAS CLOSED!! ARRRGH! "You’ve got to be kidding me!" I just sat there in my truck staring at the "Road Closed" sign and caution tape blocking the road. I was numb. I started to turn around and I saw a dump truck coming down the closed road.

"What’s going on?" I yelled to the driver.

"Cleaning up a little landslide," was the reply.

"When will it open back up?" I asked. I thought to myself, "I don’t even know why I asked. It’s obvious that God doesn’t want me to fish today. I’m just going to go home."

"We’re pretty much done. I guess you can come on through if you want since you’ve got a 4wd. Just be careful."

The rain stopped (literally and figuratively)! I drove the mile-or-so and saw the blessed river. There were NO other cars. "I’m the only one fishing today," I thought. I pulled up to a beautiful spot, put on my waders, vest, and gear, and got in the water. The sun came out. I put on a worm and cast it into the water. Bite. The first of MANY trout, and it was a big beautiful rainbow. The wind picked up. "It’s a good thing I brought this spinning…" I stopped in mid-thought. If I wouldn’t have left my wallet at home, I wouldn’t have picked up my spinning rod. If I wouldn’t have had all the delays, I would have fished in the rain and would’ve been soaked. I thought about all the other set-backs I had experienced. Each one had a purpose. Each one. Whoa.

"Thank you, Lord," I said out loud.

Today I caught a boat-load of fish (I’m exaggerating, but not much). I really lost count. I caught them on worms, corn, fake salmon eggs, rooster-tails, and virtually everything else I threw in the water. I fished all day and left the river when it was dark. It was a beautiful day. A little windy, but beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever had more pure, relaxing, refreshing, contemplative, fun. Nothing was on my mind but beauty, fish, and the Creator who made it all. It was worship.

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