We were walking across a bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. The long span hovered above the Bosphorus, the ribbon of water connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and separating Asia from Europe. This water is at the very center of the three major land masses of the ancient world. I hung over the edge and looked into the water.
First, we rode over the bridge on a streetcar. Then we rode back. The next day we rode over on the train (the best Baklava in town was just on the side of the bridge) and walked back across the bridge. It's a little over 4 football fields in length and it is double deckered. We had ridden over the top so decided to walk across underneath. The space was filled with restaurants. It was just about dinner time, so lots of maitre d's were trying to cajole us to sit down to eat.
It meant that we hung closer to the railing. This was complex because dozens of fishing lines extended off the top road and past our heads into the water. On regular basis, the thump of a weight would cause our heads to spin. The desperate flapping of a seagull caught in a fisherman's line was too sad to watch (the bird eventually freed itself and flew away to our great relief). It was quite the gauntlet. Hungry fish on one side, and even hungrier fish sellers on the other side.
At the midpoint the pathway lead again to the topside. We decided to walk up above for the second part. Now we could see the conductors waving their wands up and down willing the fish to rise in unison. They did not hold the rods steady, but drew them up and down in a perfect slow rhythm.
Then we saw it, someone caught something. I was expecting a big fish. This is deep water, this is important water, this is dark and foreboding water. He pulled up the line and a small minnow dangled from the hook. "What a shame," I thought, "it still just has the bait on it." Then the fisherman took the minnow off and dropped it into a clear plastic container. It raced around with the dozen or so other confused fingerlings. They were fishing for minnows. We began to notice that this was all they were catching. We looked closer and were told that they are a local delicacy and eaten on sandwiches.
What are you fishing for and where are you fishing? What do you want and what will you settle for? Jesus asks us to fish for people, to rescue them for them deep waters of sin and death. Sometimes we settle for minnows. Let's not settle, instead fish deeper and harder.