Didn’t think you’d see this…”there are more events in life that are more important than fishing.” Was said this morning by this guy; his name is Mark Henry Miller. Maybe you know him.
Oh, fishing is on his calendar, to fish with a new, valued friend and his favorite guide. Mark calls him Zorba and Zorba has dropped “Mark” for Padre. Two days. Fishing for Spring Chinook Salmon [important for caps to each name.] On the Columbia River, which now bulges…not with too many fish, but with too much water.
But, Mark Henry Miller learned that fishing is not the be-all and end-all. There are matters much deeper and more fueling. Even than a fill-the-net-day.
Actually three dynamics.
One happened two days ago when Mark worshipped in a church where a clergy friend was pastor. Mark had interviewed the clergy friend more than ten years ago, encouraged him to come to Texas and now Ron is serving a very new lively congregation.
When Mark walked in he was greeted warmly. Now, Mark had trouble, even though Ron was shorter than arm’s length, to hear clearly. With his hearing aid, the active and alive conversations during pre-worship fellowship were more than hearable. Ron made Mark feel welcomed. Mark realized this congregation is alive…and the conversations give “animation” a great definition.
Then Mark turned and saw George. George was a member of a church Mark served more than a handful years ago. George hugged, put his arms on Mark’s shoulders and said, “Wow. A brother in faith is here with me. This is a great day.”
Mark was overwhelmed with gratitude and reciprocated the affirmation. Then George shared how his wife had died 4 years ago. And then. A few years later George and a new member of the church got married. With pride and joy George said, “You HAVE to meet my new wife.”
Worship began. Didn’t count, but the preacher’s estimate [Mark learned how to do that in 51 years of leading worship] was pushing 70. What Mark noticed, though, was the joy and enthusiasm for their pastor and for each other. It was one of those rare moments when faith and worship and a commitment to care for each other was indelibly evident.
A lady brought out a suitcase and opened it. Part of the announcements. She showed a little girl’s clothing and a blanket and a teddy bear. The church has a mission project to “equip suitcases” and gift them to young children wh they move into a Foster Home. Mark was so impressed how the church isn’t only about each other. They will never amputate the Gospel. And, during the whole time, as he hugged Ron and George good-bye, Mark never for a moment thought about a singing reel.
He then did and began to plan how he will fill his suitcase for his fishing trip.
Then his I-phone rang. Yes, it is an I-phone, because Mark’s wife and two sons gave him a non-negotiating decision: “You will be pleased to shift from your flip phone.” They were right, Mark mused.
He drove home, actually pulled off the road to answer the call. The worst news imaginable. Mark’s dearest clergy friend in Seattle, Joanne, shared that her spouse, Christie, had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. They will operate on Tuesday. Joanne was told it’s a very aggressive tumor and not all of it can be removed. Life stops. Mark was overwhelmed with concern. Not about whether the reel would sing. No, a thousand no’s. Rather, how he could be supportive.
The decision was made. He told Joanne. Last night [Monday] Mark called Joanne and shared a prayer with Joanne and Christie. The surgery is this morning, Tuesday.
Then, shortly ahead when Mark flies to Portland, the fishing will happen. Mark, though, because he loves to plan the details, will leave the nets and get to Seattle, where he will share a day with Christie and Joanne. But he will also be able to visit two of his newest friends, Sarah and Hannah.
This morning as Mark Henry Miller raps away on his key-board, he realizes fishing IS important. But, so much more important are the people who grace his life…and in whatever moment God can help, how that gracing can know reciprocity. He will pray for Ron and his effective leadership. He will pray for George and his new bride. But this morning during Christie’s surgery he will pray as deeply as he can that Christie knows God is always with her…as well as with Joanne, and that new friends can realize that friendship and caring and aliveness in sharing…that’s what’s it all about.
Whether or not the reel sings.
So. Mark Henry Miller? Have a great day. Now. Your “kids,” Faith, Caleb and Copper petition you. They want to walk you. So. Get to getting.