"Why haven't I caught anything?" my daughter whined, the disappointment heavy in her voice. For nearly an hour, Samantha had gripped her rod and reel with an eagerness known only to a 5-year-old on her first fishing trip. Yet her line remained slack and motionless.
My wife, the eternal optimist, had an idea. "Why don't you ask Jesus to help you?"
Hedging for God
I squirmed at the suggestion. The possible ramifications of praying for a fish flooded my mind. What if my daughter catches nothing but clumps of algae? Will her budding faith be crushed? Will she doubt God's love for her?
In the three decades I've been praying, God hasn't always answered my prayers the way I hoped He would. As a mature believer, I've come to appreciate God's wisdom in not giving me everything I ask for; but how could my young daughter grasp the intricacies of God's good and perfect will?
I cleared my throat and prepared to do some hedging on God's behalf.
Before I could qualify my wife's words, though, my daughter launched her hopeful prayer. "Jesus, please help me get a fish. Amen."
There it was. The gauntlet had been thrown. God was on trial. Or so it seemed to me, as Samantha waited for Him to answer her prayer.
To my surprise, she didn't wait long. Within minutes her sagging line straightened and the tip of her rod bounced.
"Samantha, you've got one!" I shouted in disbelief. "Reel it in! Reel it in!"
Samantha cranked the reel and heaved the fish to shore. Moments later, she held a glistening rainbow trout on the end of a stringer. She shouted gleefully as the fish flopped about in the air.
In my bewilderment, I realized that God was pursuing my daughter, wooing her heart with His indescribable grace. For years, I had been trying to say and do all the right things to prod her closer to God. But it was Samantha's heavenly Father, not her earthly one, who caused her to trust Him. Just as He filled the nets of two Galilean brothers long ago (Luke 5:4-10), He sent a fish to my daughter's line — and fed her growing faith.