Father, Son, and Holy Mackerel
Here’s an outline for a great Sunday talk, very appropriate for Father’s Day. It’s called Father, Son, and Holy Mackerel!
Opening: Personal story related to fishing. Here’s the one Bil used:
I can count the times I went fishing with my Father on one hand, actually on three fingers. But those three fishing experiences were memorable, memorable indeed! I was a wide-eyed seven year old and was excited about going fishing with my Dad.
Each time I tossed out the line I caught something and my lines never hit the water. On the first toss I hooked my Father’s favorite fishing hat, pulling it off his head. I remember his initial irritation turning to amusement as he helped me reel his hat in. I also remember how the wet hat looked on his head. He wouldn’t fish without it.
On our next fishing trip I hooked the back of my shirt – twice! I did manage to catch several fish, it wasn’t many. I remember they were small, and I learned how to talk fisherman’s talk. I learned what is meant by ‘catch and release.’ If they’re too small, you throw them back!
I’d catch a small cat fish or snag a turtle and look at my Father and ask ‘release?’ And he’d nod his irritation. When it came to fishing I wasn’t giving Dad much to celebrate.
On my third and last fishing expedition with Dad I hooked is left ear lobe. I didn’t mean to do it. I hooked it good! I didn’t have to ask about ‘catch and release’ that time. I remember thinking, “Holy mackerel, is he going to toss me overboard?”
When I look back on those fishing fiascos with my Dad I realized that our time together was the important thing. After I ‘hooked and released’ I usually immersed myself in a book, took notes, and composed something of my own while Dad fished. I didn’t know it then, but those initial writing projects were the beginning of a writing career.
My Father liked to catch fish – and I liked to catch ideas. Later I learned they’re the same thing. I also learned that most fishermen catch their best fish by the tale – TALE – and I learned nothing grows as fast as a fish from the time it bites until it gets away.
Biblical Story: John 21:1-6 with Metaphysical Interpretation — Here’s how we shared it:
I’ve got another fish story for you. It comes from the Gospel of John. John 21:1-6. But it’s more than just a fish story. It’s about how the brain works. (Read John 21:1-6)
If you take this story literally, 7 fishermen took the advice of someone who never fished in the pond, so to speak. So there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Metaphysically, this story has much to teach us:
There are seven disciples mentioned: Simon Peter (faith), John (love),
Thomas (understanding), Nathaniel who is the same as Bartholomew (imagination), James, son of Jebedee (wisdom), and two more un-named disciples who were probably Simon, the Cananaean (Zeal), and James, son of Alphaeus (order). These 7 disciples represent the spiritual qualities which help us manifest ideas.
Sea of Tiberias = the spiritual insights we can gain when we apply our spiritual powers
Fish = spiritual ideas. (In verse 11 it says the disciples caught 153 large fish – which they didn’t ‘catch and release’ – 153 represents the number of known species of fish at the time of this Gospel story. When we connect with Spirit, we have access to an inexhaustible supply of ideas)
Net = Our mind, which catches ideas
Fishing at night from the left side of the boat = literally means we are fishing in the dark if we try to understand spiritual principles from a left-brained material consciousness
Right Side = Always indicates the side of truth. It also represents the right side of our brain, our intuitive side, our creativity.
So, when we operate out of our sense consciousness (Fish at night), we can work like crazy, but come up empty. However, when we connect with Spirit and apply truth principles (fish from the right side of the boat), we can tap into an inexhaustible supply of Divine Ideas which can bring us the prosperity, peace and happiness we want.
Holy mackerel. All we have to do is harmonize both sides of our brain to catch Divine Ideas. All it takes is using a little bit of our net worth.
Optional Additional Reference: Jonah and the “Great Fish”
What’s interesting about this fish story is that it is Jonah, a human, who gets away after being caught by a large fish! You can read all about it in the Book of Jonah, Chapters 1 through 4. Basically, it tells the story of Jonah who was asked by God to witness to the people of Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh – it’s like asking someone to go to Newark or Chicago’s South side – so he intentionally disobeyed God.
He got on a ship headed away from Nineveh and the ship ran into a storm. The crew believed Jonah had upset the sea gods and tossed Jonah overboard. Holy Mackerel! According to the story God causes a great fish to swallow Jonah and the poor castaway spends the next three days and nights in the belly of the whale.
Imagine spending 3 days in the belly of a whale with dead fish, trash from ships, and anything else the whale may have swallowed. Not my idea of cruising around the Mediterranean.
If someone told you a story like that today, you’d probably say: “Holy mackerel.” There’s a lot more to this fish tale, but here’s the short version:
Jonah represents that part of us that is spiritually-oriented from an intellectual perspective, one which tends to be judgmental and unloving. The thoughts which come from that purely intellectual perspective fall into our subconscious material mindsets (the ocean) and are swallowed by a great fish (absorbed by Divine Mind)
It is there that our inclinations have the opportunity to become divinely ordered (symbolized by the three days in the belly of the whale). As our ideas are expressed (thrown upon dry land) they can be Christ-centered or self-centered. It’s up to us.
That’s a tough story to swallow for some people. Because it means we create our reality. We can create happiness or sadness; safety or peril; prosperity or disparity; health or dis-ease. Holy mackerel. It’s up to us.
Practical Application: NET Acronym
N = Narrow Your Focus
E = Expect Solutions
T = Take Action
Here’s how we shared it:
Cher’s personal story: My fishing adventures can be counted on ONE FINGER! And it wasn’t with my dad, from whom I must have inherited my lack of fishing interest! It was with my maternal grandfather. My grandfather was a carpenter by trade, and in addition to the house that my mother still lives in, he also built his own fishing boat. Well, I decided one summer that I would enjoy going fishing with him. But my idea of going fishing was to carry along the transistor radio (remember those?) and turn the music up loud! As you can imagine, that trip didn’t go too well! My grandfather claimed the music would scare away the fish ~ and I was adamant that it would attract them! Needless to say, I lost that battle, and experienced one of the most boring afternoons in my memory! Luckily, I have tons more happy, joyous memories of times with my Grandfather!
I get much more excited about fishing for Divine Ideas … and from a Unity perspective, we know that we have access to an abundance of Divine Ideas! There is NO problem that does not have a solution … if we approach it the right way. But too often, we are like the disciples in the story Bil shared — we work like crazy (fish all night) – yet come up empty. What does it take to connect with Divine substance that holds everything we need? For the disciples, it took a net, thrown on the right side of the boat. So this morning, we want to share a net with you, a net designed to catch so many Divine Ideas that you will just have to say, “Holy Mackerel!”
N = Narrow your focus
Initially, it may sound strange to say “Narrow your focus” in the same breath we talk about abundance! You’d think you should broaden your focus. So let me clarify! Here’s what I’m talking about.
How many times do we get a great idea, then talk ourselves out of it because of all the extraneous issues we allow ourselves to get involved in? Here’s an analogy: We just watched the NBA finals, where the Spurs swept the series. Whenever I watch basketball, I continue to be amazed at how the majority of these professionals can do so well at the foul line, with the fans for the opposing team waving their arms, cheering and jeering, making all kinds of disruptive commotion. How do they do it? They narrow their focus. Larry Bird, winner of ____ foul shooting titles, said it best, in his book, Drive: The Story of My Life. He said, “You’ve got to concentrate every time. … When I go to the line, I am always thinking, ‘All net. No rim or anything else. Just all net!’” That’s narrowing your focus. You only see what is important, what contributes to your successful achievement. Everything else just disappears from your radar!
Think about yourself when you are exploring new, creative solutions to problems you may be experiencing. You get an inspiration, then you remember that you don’t know how to do that well, or you start thinking about all the potential problems you could run into, or you get caught up in the fact that you don’t have the money to finance the idea. When you allow these negative thoughts to make a home in your consciousness, you automatically create barriers that prevent Divine Ideas from flowing freely. It’s time to narrow your focus.
The best way to narrow your focus is to spend some time at Headquarters. This should be your first response to any overwhelming problem. When you get some bad news, or run into a rough situation, or find yourself facing a problem that looks like an unsurmountable mountain, and you feel the tension building, the worries starting, the imagination creating all kinds of disastrous scenarios, just stop! Take a few deep breaths, then put yourself in a place where you can spend at least 15 minutes in the Silence. I literally say (yes, out loud), “Okay God (I’m talking to my indwelling Spirit), “This is yours! My human self cannot see any solutions, but I refuse to allow this situation to have power over me. I release my hold on it, and give it over to you for divine solutions.” Then I go into the Silence. Invariably, I come out of that experience with a few ideas. They may seem weird or impractical, but I write them down and give them consideration. And if I don’t have ideas, I simply affirm that Divine Ideas are flowing to me, and I release all concern and worry about this issue. Believe me, the ideas do start coming!
E = Expect Solutions
One of the neatest things about our Unity Truth principles is that we don’t wish or hope we get results — we KNOW! And knowing what we know, we must approach our fishing expeditions from that state of expectancy! Once you expect something, you set your intention ~ and things just start showing up! For example, as a church we have decided to look for land for a new building. All of a sudden, when I’m driving around, I am noticing all these “For Sale” signs on lots, all over Durham. In fact, I even notice them when I am out of town. My attention is just drawn to land for sale! I never noticed it before, but now they are everywhere! Did the real estate market suddenly go bananas? Is there more land than ever available? Of course not! What happened was that I became focused, then expected to see something. And it’s everywhere!
In Metaphysics, this is called the Law of Self-Selection. Here’s a visual that our favorite instructor, Paul Hasselbeck, shared: Imagine a wall of bricks. Each brick represents a Divine Idea. When you go into the Silence, you have access to this whole wall of bricks. But that could be a little overwhelming. When you go in with a perceived need or intention, the specific bricks (ideas) that will be of most help to you pop out for you to claim! They suddenly become more visible (just like the for sale signs!). In order to access these ideas, we must go into the Silence to receive the guidance ~ that is fishing on the right side of the boat!
Narrow your focus; Expect Solutions; and the final element of our NET formula:
You remember, in order for the disciples to pull in that record-setting load of fish, they had to do something! Jesus didn’t just snap his fingers and make the fish appear. He told them what to do … and even though they were a little doubtful (we’ve fished all night right in this area and haven’t caught a thing!!), they followed His guidance, and experienced outrageous success!
Wrap-Up: Fishers United Story: (Here’s how we told it)
You can talk about Divine Ideas all day long ~ but to get results, you have to take action. I found this really neat little story during my research for today’s lesson, and did just a little editing to fit it to this message. See if it speaks to you. It’s called Fishers United.
Now it came to pass that there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish, and people were hungry. Week after week, month after month, and year after year, people who called themselves Fishers United met in meetings to talk about their call to go fishing.
Diligently they searched for new and better fishing methods. They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to share fishing information, learn about state-of-the-art fishing technology, and become inspired by the world’s greatest inspirational Fish Storytellers.
They built a large and beautiful building called The Association of Fishers United Headquarters. The plea was that everyone should be involved in fishing. All the members seemed to agree that a Board was needed, who could challenge fishers to be more faithful in fishing.
Elaborate and expensive training centers were built, designed to teach others how to fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not actually fish. They only taught fishing. The members did not actually fish. They only talked about fishing. And the stories of how difficult it was to catch those slippery fish grew and grew, until everyone was convinced that it was impossible to actually catch fish. And so they commissioned more studies, invited in more specialists and researchers, and continued to hold training sessions and meeting to discuss new ways to catch fish. And still, no one actually went fishing.
And it came to pass that there were many fish in the waters all around them. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish, and the people were hungry.
We are surrounded by Divine Ideas! But we often get so tied up in the busyness of gathering information and dealing with the distractions from the world of appearance, that we totally miss the Ideas! When you find yourself running on empty, and no solutions seem to be coming, it’s time for you to remember the NET formula. Fish from the right side of the boat, by going into the Silence, then—Narrow your focus, Expect solutions, and Take action! It really is Unity’s perspective on the Trinity: We go into the Silence and narrow our focus by connecting to Divine Mind ~ that’s the Father; with our state of expectancy, we receive ideas ~ that’s the Son; and then we take action, which is the expression of those Divine Ideas ~ that’s the Holy Spirit. And then we take a step back and see what we’ve created, and we just have to say: “Holy Mackerel!”
Photo Credit, with permission:
© Sergey Khakimullin | Dreamstime.com – Let’s go fishing