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Friday, March 9, 2007

A Catfish and the Compassion of Jesus

I want to invite you to join me for coffee this morning at a small town diner. This is the same diner where my grandfather would meet all the old coots from town for a mean cup of coffee, a chat about the weather, and to share a yarn or two. I am sure every man in this small town has heard the story I am about to tell you.

My grandfather, Papa, was an accomplished fisherman. He could easily pull a trout from a lake, a roaring river, or even a skinny brook. Heck, I bet he pulled a few from the gutter out front. My papa could fish. I loved to go with him. We left at dawn with poles in hand and a bag of candy. This man knew how to bribe a grandkid.

My first fishing adventure was to a reservoir. I was nine years old and confident of my fishing ability until I saw the wiggly worm. Gross! Papa fixed my line and cast it from the shore. You guessed it. I caught the very first fish, a nine-pound catfish. Okay, I may be exaggerating. This is a fish story. I was nine. Nine is what I remember.

Papa whooped and clapped as he pulled the fat-cat from the line. I was beaming like a sunrise in summer. I loved this fish. It went without question; I would take it home and keep it as my pet.

Grandpa agreed. He filled a large pail and placed my “new pet” inside. Into the camper it went for the trip home. Mom protested our sudden acquisition of the wet pet. Papa was deaf to her complaints. He had a hearing problem, the selective type. We proceeded home with the bucket sloshing and spilling all over the camper floor. I was ear-to-ear teeth the entire ride.

Later that afternoon poor Whiskers died after my goofy brother dropped him on the patio. Whiskers went to catfish heaven (don’t try to convince me otherwise *grin*). My grandfather sensed my sadness over my lost pet and knew exactly what to do.

“Get ready for a fish funeral.” he smiled. “There won’t be a fish fry tonight!”

Calling the family together, he tenderly placed the stiff fish in a carrier he crafted out of an old coat hanger. Thus, the procession began. From tallest to smallest, we headed out behind the garage. I remember Mom following with her 16-millimeter home movie camera for posterity’s sake.

Gently, old Whiskers was laid to rest in a shallow earthen grave. I shed a tear.

As I remember this crazy catfish funeral, I smile. My grandfather’s compassion was a priceless gift to a small girl. I still carry it with me today.

Gifts of compassion we seldom forget.

Jesus took my prodigal years and redeemed them. Jesus said to me, “I love you” when I was alone and still defiant. Jesus walked faithfully beside me when I was a liar, even to myself. Jesus met me in the darkest pit and took the lash to save me. I still carry all of these gifts with me today.

Jesus. No one can take this gift away. No one can touch it. No one can change it. The compassion of Jesus will carry me home one day. Until then, I am compelled to share His compassion and love. I want to share Him with people in extravagant, impulsively, playful, and even outlandish ways. I want to love like a man who would bury a fish.

After the fish funeral while tucked in bed and fast asleep, the alley cats enjoyed a banquet. I was over the trauma by the next morning (you know kids)…..
All was right with the world.

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Blogger Denise said...

Thanks for sharing such a precious post with us, bless you.

March 8, 2007 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Only one tear? :) That story is so warm and Chicken Soup for the Soul like. I'm so glad I read this before bed. That's just the kind of virtuous thinking God wants me to meditate on. Things that are good, and just, and pure, and things like "Pappas" who are full of compassion and spunk.

March 9, 2007 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Terri @ In His Hands said...

What a sweet story and I agree, very Chicken Soup for the Soul!
Nine pounds of ugly didn't stop you from taking it in for your pet. lol :) I love that!

March 9, 2007 at 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Denise, Thank you for stopping in for a cup of that mean coffee. :0)

Darlene, you always make me smile. Thanks for the late night read.

Blessings, praying your day is filled with Jesus. :)

March 9, 2007 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

What a wonderful post and a great reminder. Thanks!

March 9, 2007 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

This is the kind of writing that has made me a reader of yours for a long time. Great job, thoughtful and relatable.

March 9, 2007 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Deena said...

Don't you just love Papas who model our Papa's love for us? God is so gracious to continually give us living examples of His great love and compassion for us...though none greater than His Own Son.
Loved your papa story...and so glad you didn't go out and "catch" yourself another pet:-)

March 9, 2007 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...


Nine pounds of ugly... you crack me up. Thanks for stopping in.

Kili, Thank you for popping in for a cup of joe... See you again soon.

Linda, Wow... *gulp* your words are a sweet gift to my spirit. Thank you!! Blessings my friends, Lynn

March 9, 2007 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

The compassion of your Papa and the compassion of Christ make me want to weep tears of joy. It is that unconditional love that wraps itself around our hearts and draws us to Him.
Thank you Lynn. That was beautiful.

March 9, 2007 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

Lynn I loved reading this. We go fishing every summer in Minnesota and this story just warmed the cockles of my heart ;) Blessings

March 9, 2007 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Lynn, I had a fishing Papa too...This post reminds me once again how much I miss him!

March 9, 2007 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

This is a part of you I've never seen. I loved reading this story. It's always the small acts that children remember. That's a lesson for us as parents! Thanks for your wonderful post.

March 9, 2007 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Am I the only one thinking, "Fry that thing up!!!"? Kidding, of course.

That was a great story. Not kidding about that at all.

March 10, 2007 at 8:06 AM  
Anonymous eph2810 said...

What a wonderful story, Lynn.

Yes, He is faithful and will see us through until the end. Some days I am so looking forward for His return soon...

Blessings to you and yours...

March 15, 2007 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

As a former defiant prodigal myself, I so appreciated this post.
Gifts of compassion - I will be on the lookout for these! :)

March 18, 2007 at 5:10 PM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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