Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Parables and Parallels for Fishers of Men

We love being with the missionaries, with the members in their home wards or branches. Sunday, the 29th, May we traveled to Wolfeboro having scheduled that day months ago with the branch president. A beautiful drive in the early morning! As we entered the town, we saw people everywhere, walking the streets bordering shimmering Lake Winnipausaukee. It then occurred to us that this was Memorial Day weekend. Offhandedly, President commented,” This is the vacation home of Mitt Romney.” Sure enough, as we stood to speak, we noticed not only Mitt Romney and his family, but Bill Marriott and his. No fanfare. Same focus on the Savior. And for us, the same joys of interactions with the ‘year around’ Saints in Wolfeboro. (PS Mitt Romney and family stayed all three hours of the meeting block and stayed awake.)

On May 17 and 19, we held zone conferences in South Royalton, Vermont and in Augusta, Maine. Wonderful times to renew faith, to be instructed and to build unity in the mission. President Wilkey—with the help of his ‘ghost writer’ –sent the message below for the mission newsletter published once every transfer cycle—every six weeks. These glimpses summarize the fishing theme which he used to capture the interest of the missionaries and to point them to our call to leave our nets and become fishers of men.


A clinch knot if used by a fly fisherman will slip apart with little tension. However the improved clinch knot with one more loop in the knot binds the line to withstand any weight or tension placed upon it. Likewise it is the small and simple things lived that help us withstand the weight or tension of missionary work. Conversely we will slip apart under tension if we fail to do those small and simple things. Alma counseled his son Helaman, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of souls.” (Alma 37: 6-7) What is moral of the parallel? We write our own conclusions as we examine ourselves: Are we living the little things? As we do live the small and simple, do we expect to withstand the “tension” of missionary labors and to assist the Lord in bringing about the salvation of souls?

A fly fisherman who knows where to fish and how to approach the stream –not slap cast but gently float the fly onto the water surface—will have fishing success. A missionary who approaches his divine calling and authority, his daily schedule, his study, his area as well as planning, finding and teaching with casualness will become a fishing “casualty.” In short, casualness equals casualties. On the other hand, a missionary who has reverence and respect for his or her calling, a willingness to live the daily schedule, to study with a desire to be taught and to prepare to teach and to follow with exactness the standards of missionary appearance and conduct will invite the Spirit to be a divine and constant companion. Reverence invites revelation.

“…Jesus walking by the sea,” invited two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-20) Likewise we have committed to a prophet of God as we signed our call letter to leave all worldly concerns behind...(See Missionary Handbook p. 4) We follow our Master Jesus Christ as did the apostles “who forsook all and followed him.” (Luke 5:11) As Elder Holland passionately said, “Elder or Sister, you can’t go back. You’re in this for the long haul, all the way to the end.” The moral of the story? I quote the admonition and promise of an apostle who himself an avid fisherman. “As a special witness of him, I testify to you this day that the time will come when every man, woman and child will look into the Savior’s loving eyes. On that day, we will know with a surety the worth of our decision to straightway follow Him. That each of us may hear the call of the Master and straightway leave our entangling nets and follow Him is my earnest prayer…” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, General Conference, April 2002)

I testify of the love and compassion of our Savior. I know that His love manifested in the great Atonement defy description. What remains then for each one of us is to answer with conviction the same question that the Savior asked Peter who had gone “a fishing” (John 21) , “lovest thou me?” (John 21: 15-17) Do we love Him? Do we love Him enough to feed His sheep? As we do so, we can become like Peter who was filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 3:8) We can become even as our Savior the ultimate ‘fisher of men.”

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