There I was at one of my favorite places doing one of my favorite things: standing on the shore of a nearby lake fishing. Pauline had given me a new casting reel and I was giving it a workout, enjoying how quiet it functioned and how far I could cast as the day moved too quickly to a close.
Soon the sun would sink down over the horizon behind me and I would head home to polish a few more pages on a book I was writing. Waves were quieting to ripples as I looked across at the distant shore and took in the natural beauty of the moment.
Fishing often reminds me that our Lord loved to be near the water and that He had called humble fishermen to be his disciples, saying He would make them fishers of men.
These unlearned men of the sea would soon leave all to follow Him and later become known as world changers who brought thousands into the family of faith and launched a spiritual adventure that continues to change lives today.
The serene scene before me, as is often the case, moved me to worship: softly singing hymns and praying for members of my family and others who came to mind. That was the setting when my few hours of fishing were transformed from a time of routine relaxation to an unforgettable experience.
I had just made a long cast and settled back while reeling in the bait with anticipation when I heard a fluttering of wings and suddenly a dove landed, not more than an arm’s length away, on my casting rod.
I’m grasping for words to describe an indescribable moment: one that seemed frozen in time (or eternity) for as long as this beautiful bird was there resting on my pole.
“Well, you’re a pretty bird,” I remarked, a comment I might have made to a cardinal, a robin or even a sparrow. But this winged one was different. This was a dove that had arrived uninvited to my worship service.
Forty days after the tops of the mountains began to appear, following the great flood of Noah’s time (Genesis 8), Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had receded enough to embark from the ark. The dove’s return and subsequent second mission let Noah know that by God’s grace he had weathered the storm and saved the race.
When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Matthew says the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came to rest on Him (Matthew 3).
So doves have come to symbolize peace or the presence of God.
Imagine then my surprise when one of these carriers of good news had come to visit me while I was singing, praying for others and giving thanks.
“Cut to the chase,” some reader says: “Did you catch any fish?”
Yes, a northern pike, which I soon set free to roam the depths and grow, just as a beautiful dove had arrived out of the blue to help me grow in my understanding of God’s love and share this unforgettable story with you.
How long did the dove stay?
Those magic moments weren’t timed, but their memories remain today.
And the peace God brings to a troubled heart confirms His love will never depart.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org