Mend Your Drift
I like to fish. That’s it. No qualification; no equivocation. I enjoy everything about fishing. I like getting out of bed before the sun comes up, loading my gear into my old blue pickup, and heading for the mountains. The entire ritual associated with a fishing trip turns my crank. When Old Blue starts into the washboard road that runs through the canyon it makes me smile and whistle a happy tune. As I drive past different spots on the way to my current favorite bend in the river, I have pleasurable memories of fishing trips past. Right here is where I hooked that big brown and then cut my finger on his teeth removing the fly. There is the place where I took a ride downstream on my backside when the flow was so high. This flat is where me and my fishing bud hammered em during a Trico hatch one fall. Did I mention my two favorite times to fish? When I am alone or with someone. Surely fly fishing is the most enjoyable thing that God invented!
Catching Fish Versus Fishing
Oh, yes I also enjoy catching fish. But let’s face it, catching fish is kind of like the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. Having a box of caramel popcorn with peanuts is terrific, and the prize just makes it even better. But make no mistake about it, when I am suited up with my nine-for-five Scott fly rod in hand and up to my knees in delightfully cold Colorado water, I aim to catch fish! But fishing is the whole experience. Making the success of a trip depend on how many of those wiggling, slimy trout I land in my net is too much like work. I quit counting years ago. Who cares anyway? I’m too busy having fun.
A recent experience made me appreciate how much I love fly fishing. A preacher friend (who will remain anonymous) was visiting and I offered to take him into the canyon so that he could enjoy what heaven must be like for a few hours. He had never tried fly fishing and I offered to guide him for a short trip. He liked to fish … if the fish were biting. Let me translate this statement into plain English – he liked to catch fish but not necessarily to fish. I am afraid this is where many folks are if they would just be honest.
We make the drive to the mountains, enter the canyon, park Old Blue, suit and rig up, and get out into the river. I show the brother how to do a simple roll cast and dead drift with a nymph rig. The object is to allow the rig to drift with the current naturally. I tell the brother to believe in his fly, believe in his cast, and mend his drift. I then proceeded to enjoy the process of stalking fish myself. After a while I returned to my companion to find that he had moved to a different location. I showed him a good spot with a perfect feeding lane to drift through. Believe in your fly, believe in your cast, and mend your drift. After a while the brother becomes restless. They are not biting. I try the same feeding lane and almost immediately stick a nice one!
A Natural Drift
Am I trying to convince you that I am some sort of fishing guru? Far from it. I’m just making a point. What was the different between my experience and that of my companion? My friend was not mending his drift. To mend your drift means to pick slack line off the surface or to feed slack line as your fly travels downstream. Too much slack or not enough slack causes your drift to look unnatural to the fish below the surface. Mending your drift means paying attention and tending to your line so that the fly travels through the water naturally. My friend was allowing drag to cause his rig to flow through the water sideways or with hesitation. The fish scattered every time his rig came down the feeding lane. He was so intent on catching fish that he failed to take care of the little things that would cause fish to take his fly. But fishing is the entire process. Enjoy the process and quit focusing only on the result.
This is also a spiritual concept that requires maturity to grasp. Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. Our function as Christians is the same as that of a branch – to bear fruit. So, should we wake up each day trying to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? No. Our focus should be on maintaining fellowship with Jesus. As we do this, we will naturally produce fruit.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” John 15:4
Fruit is a consequence of maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Our focus should be on the process instead of the product developed by the process. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is that which the Spirit produces in our lives because of our relationship with the Lord.
One example of what I mean concerns the fruit of the Spirit called longsuffering or patience. Short-term pain is not longsuffering; this is simply called suffering. To develop the fruit of longsuffering one must suffer long while remaining “attached” to the life-giving vine. So, in the throes of long-lasting suffering should we focus our efforts upon developing patience? Not hardly. Believe in your Savior, believe in your salvation, and focus on how you react to the immediate situation. Instead of telling Christians to attempt to produce the fruit of patience in their trials, Paul in his epistles asks them to focus their attention on their reaction to the immediate trials before them. Paul knew that remaining plugged in to Christ and taking each trail as it came would allow the Lord to produce this wonderful fruit of patience in a believer’s life.
This concept works for most things that God wants to produce in our lives. I am learning to enjoy the entire Christian experience instead of focusing on where it will take me. I am learning to enjoy everything about my relationship with the Lord instead of focusing on what He is producing in me. What about you? Believe in your fly, believe in your cast, and mend your drift.