Fishing with Lasers

“It’s an acronym. Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Look it up.”

I did. Anytime a student at ASU learns something in class he or she thinks is worth sharing, I do what I can to encourage that behavior.

As it turns out, Logan was right. Once called “a solution looking for a problem,” lasers have found applications all over modern life—everything from supermarket checkout to precision machining to massive weapons to those annoying little red pointers that are so tempting to eight-year-olds and college students alike. Is there anything a laser can’t do?

Try fishing.

I suppose there are plenty of technicality minded people out there who could propose a way you could fish with a laser. If the military can produce one large enough to take down an airplane, surely they could blast some fish out of the water (so to speak).

But practically speaking, the best thing for fishing is not cutting edge technology created through the foundations of Quantum Mechanics. It’s a simple hook with some sort of bait, and maybe a rod and reel. That, and time.

Which is where this metaphor really hits me.

In the past several weeks, I’ve been more of a laser than a fishhook. My calendar has been booked, the demands on my time incessant. I absorb the energy from the project, aim myself in its direction, and burn until the job is done. Then it’s on to the next thing in the never ending list of obligations and opportunities. That’s my life. That’s a lot of people’s lives.

But it’s not our calling.

Once Jesus visited the house of his friends Martha and Mary. While Mary sat down and shared stories with Jesus, Martha did all the cooking and cleaning and fretting over all that had to be done. Finally, she’d had enough of her sister’s laziness. She snapped at Jesus to order Mary off her duff and into her duty.

But, of course, Jesus doesn’t take orders. He explains that their relationship with one another is more important than all the fussing Martha was doing. As it turns out, being busy has nothing to do with being a follower of Jesus, much less a friend.

Elsewhere in the stories, Jesus tells his disciples to be fishers of people. It seems to me that most of us contemporary church people take his command to heart, but insist on using the wrong equipment. We want to generate energy, to concentrate every available resource on the target we have set for ourselves, whether in mission or members or dollars.

Still, all of our focused efforts will never catch fish. Even for commercial fishermen, with their nets and traps and modern equipment, ultimately have to take the same basic approach as the kid at grandma’s pond: throw out some bait and see what happens. Play a hunch and wait.

If we have a common golden calf in our age, it’s being busy. We worship the frantic pace of our lives. We never stop for anything.

But what if we did?


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