I have served as a captain and guide in Alaska for the past 21 years. I take customers fishing for salmon, halibut and other bottom fish.

But occasionally the joy of fishing is erased by a customer hitting the wrong lever and bango, there’s a big backlash on the reel, with the lines on the reel snarled and tangled in a big mess. I respond by saying, “Don’t worry, it happens all the time” (under my breath, “How stupid can you be?”). Often, there will be a fish on the line, which then requires bringing the line and fish in hand over hand.

Oftentimes it seems like our lives experience a backlash. In my wife’s and my case, within a short period of time I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, followed by surgery. My wife developed a skin condition which resulted in itching, bleeding sores over much of her body, and to top it off, she had a heart attack that was remedied by a stent in her artery.

As I pondered over the situation, the analogy of a backlash reel came floating into my mind. I’m not very good at unsnarling a backlash reel, to I usually put it into the hands of someone more skilled.

So in our situation, we were totally at the end of our human ability to unsnarl our situation — so we have handed our backlashed reel over to the Master Fisherman, who said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” and who also said, “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Sure, life sometimes hands us a backlashed reel — but by the grace and love of God, lines can be untangled, snarls undone. Free spool restored, fishing goes on, living goes on. Thank you, Lord.

James Bernard


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