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  • Jim Farrell

Lessons from Standing in a Stream


My fishing buddy Dennis standing in Cherry Run PA

As much as I enjoy fly fishing, I realize every time I enter the stream, that I really don’t belong there. I’m fully outfitted when I step in—chest waders, boots, wading staff, rod, reel, flies, tippet material, fly floatant—I pretty much have everything that is typically needed to fly fish.

And yet, I really don’t belong in that stream. I wasn’t made to live life there, to fully experience and enjoy everything that is part of being in a stream. I don’t have gills like the fish. I’m not made like aquatic bugs and plants to thrive in the water. Yes, I’m a living thing like the fish, but other than that we really don’t share other characteristics. I can’t take oxygen out of water. I don’t like to eat mayflies, nymphs, other bugs, and worms.



Wild brook trout caught on Cherry Run

However, when I step into that stream, if I “get with the flow of life there”—not as I want it to be, or even try to make it be, but as it is—when I imitate the God-given order of things as regards hatching insects, natural drift of the current, taking into account water flow and temperature, etc., then I enjoy and even benefit from being there. I’ll most likely catch fish! The closer I am to fitting in with what is happening in the stream, the more likely it is that my experience will be fun and I will be a successful fisherman.


Brown trout caught on Spring Creek in Bellefonte PA

The lesson from standing in a stream is this: living life well and being fruitful every day is similar. The closer my being and doing fits with the God-given order of things unfolding in any given time and place, the more joy and fruitfulness will I experience. It’s not about me and what I want. In a similar way that I cannot cast ten inch bugs onto a trout stream where tiny mayflies live and hatch to feed the fish and expect to catch fish, so also I cannot cast anger and bitterness into relationships with people and expect to catch friendships. I cannot cast deception and arrogance and expect to rightly influence people for good. I cannot abuse myself and expect to be healthy and happy. I cannot cast apathy and expect to be productive.

The Bible teaches that God made known to us the mystery of HIS will, according to HIS good pleasure that HE purposed in Christ, as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in HIM (caps for emphasis) (Ephesians 1:9-10). Life isn’t about me/you. Life unfolds—flows—in the way God sovereignly ordains and determines. You and I are most satisfied and fruitful when we get with God’s flow of things!

To get with God’s flow of things is what the Apostle John was instructing us to when he wrote: If we walk in the light as HE HIMSELF (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).


Water was high on Spring Creek in Bellefonte PA

Brown trout caught on Spring Creek

Flyfishers talk about “matching the hatch.” In other words, if what is on the end of the fishing line best “matches” the insect hatching on the stream at any given time and place, the more likely a fish will be caught and a fisher successful!


Sulphur dun mayfly (Ephemerella invaria)


A sulphur dun mayfly imitation

Getting with God’s flow of things is the way God calls us to live. The Apostle Paul summarized it well: Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).


Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains TN

Fishing the Big Thompson River in Estes Park CO

Fishing on the Sea of Galilee Tiberius, Israel

Teaching the next generation to fish.....

Great job Robbie!

And more teaching.....

Way to go Rebecca!

… and the journey continues, Pastor Jim

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