We were fishing under the Dewart/Allenwood Bridge in the middle of the Susquehanna River. It was about 2 a.m. and pitch dark. I don’t remember what inspired us to fish in that spot at that time, but it must have had something to do with a hot tip some knuckle-head had given me about a moonless night in August and monster catfish.
My fishing partner on that excursion was a new friend and neighbor. We had moved in across the street and when he saw me return from an early morning turkey hunt, he came over and introduced himself. It didn’t take long for us to strike up a friendship. We started fishing and hunting together and helping each other with odd jobs around the house.
I’m a preacher, but I must confess, I’ve never wanted to live across the street from one. Too many preachers are pushy and stuffy — and who wants to live under a constant pressure to convert? For that reason, I had shared with my new friend that we would only talk about God on his terms. If he didn’t bring it up, I wouldn’t bring it up. Months went by, and that arrangement worked just fine.
Until we were fishing in the dark at 2 a.m. under the bridge. That’s when my neighbor and fishing buddy said to me, “Tim, I don’t think God loves me. If He does, I can’t think of any way He has ever shown it to me.”
I sat quietly and pondered his statement. After a bit, I said, “Ron, a preacher who is crazy about fishing and hunting moved in across the street from you. Do you think there’s any chance that God has been showing you His love and you’re just not picking up on it?”
That’s all I said. That’s all he said. By 3 a.m. we were heading back to the launch. We didn’t catch any fish that night, but God had planted a new thought in Ron and it began flowing through his life.
The good news of Jesus Christ begins with one powerful declaration: God loves you.
That little sentence, which contains just three words and a grand total of eleven letters, provides the primary and essential truth required to discover the source of life. It is the starting point of everything — and nothing in life makes sense unless our thoughts rise from that specific point.
The mighty Susquehanna River officially rises out of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, NY. If you travel upstream on the north branch, you will always arrive at Otsego Lake. You can make that trip a hundred times and you will always arrive at that exact spot. The same is true for the source of life — it will always lead back to the place from which it rises: God loves you. You can argue with that truth all you want and even deny that God exists, but it will never change the truth. Life rises out of God’s love for you. And deep down inside, you know it. So did Ron.
The reason we know it is true is because God made us for His love. He designed us specifically to live within and enjoy it. This is why our instincts naturally lead us to that starting point. It takes hard work and mental gymnastics to come to any other conclusion. If you don’t believe in God or in His love, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You keep looking for the source from which life rises, but your journey always leads up some meandering tributary to a dead end. Like Ron, you’re probably weary of the search.
That’s what Ron was struggling with. Deep down inside, he knew that God loved him. But for some reason, he just couldn’t pick up on it. All I did was plant a new thought. Once the connection was made, the current pulled him in. It was like finding home.
My friend, God loves you. Is it possible that He’s been showing you that love all along and you just haven’t been picking up on it?
Give that some thought and we’ll continue the conversation next week. Until then, here’s a Scripture to think about:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39