My family operated deep sea fishing vessels for 65 years from Destin. Only the Lord Himself knows how many hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish arrived at our pier, but I wouldn't think there were many less that a million. We have pictures to prove God was so good to us and we gave Him the glory too.
During all these bountiful years we also did some fishing for men, women, children and even little babies.
After Joan and I built Emmanuel, a 65 foot 28 foot wide Catamaran, in 1990 it became very difficult to make a profit for the expenses were huge. Our mortgage payment, along with fuel, tackle, wages, taxes (lots of them) plus an increasing load of regulations, ate into the dwindling profit helped us to retire.
For the last five years or so just being able to point folks to Jesus were my true wages. Through the years many folks would come back with their grand kids in tow. Nearly everyone commented on how they were impressed with the way we operated the business. Jesus came first in everything as far as I was concerned.
The fishing lesson, I drew from the book of Genesis, helped my customers catch fish, when some had never even baited a hook before. It was so much fun sharing how God made the fish and told them what to do. Once we figured it out, we could catch them without luck, if we fished with the intelligence He gave us.
I used to tell those who were wishing each other luck they were on the wrong boat. We were going to catch fish and we did consistently, due to the Lord's incredible mercy and grace to us.
I could tell many stories of how some would come into my cabin to watch our incredible electronics as they led me from one fishing location to another. Then they could see the fish appear on our large, actually huge screen, as compared to those in use today. My first Sitex color fish finder cost $4,000, a huge amount for us back then. Our fishing tickets were only about $20, if I remember correctly. But its cost was worth every penny, for not only could I see the fish, as they could, but was also really excited to be in the gulf again using it.
Those who came into my cabin were "fair game" for me. It was so much fun telling them how we got our boats, and how none of it could have happened except the Lord saved my dad in a horrible storm six years before I was born.
What made it so wonderful too I came prepared to fish. After the Lord graciously saved me, I was so thankful I arose an hour early to speed read the scriptures. I'd found a discipline in a magazine aimed at college kids and loved the way it led me to read 10 chapters in that hour.
Then, I'd drive to our church and run all the hitchhikers out, singing “How Great is Our God,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Amazing Grace,” or something that was moving in my heart at the time. After about 15-20 minutes before Jesus, sometimes on my face in the semi-darkness, I'd arrive at the pier "ready to go.”
One man appeared "instantly" before me one early morning when I was hurting terribly, due to the senseless death of Ginger Buice, my daughter Beth's best friend. The man who caused her death had already been arrested 10 times for DUI.
As anger continued to build within me, he asked, "Do you remember me?"
I almost shouted NO, but he smiled and told me that he had come to tell me something. I almost shouted again, WHAT?
He said he heard me speak of Jesus five years before, while we were out fishing. When he returned to Atlanta, he resigned his job with the Ford Motor Company. He then went to a Bible college, graduated and became a foreign missionary. He said, "I've come to tell you, I now have my own church in Atlanta."
I turned away for a second, and when I looked back he was gone. I looked in the parking lot, on the pier and even on the boat, but he was gone as fast as he appeared. You know, so was the anger that was making me unusable to the Lord.
The fishing I was doing on the boat and pier must have been very important to God to send this man to me and then retrieve him back to Atlanta in a few minutes time.
Can you see why I never stop fishing for souls? Please consider, the Lord had 12 disciples and four were fishermen who all seemed to be the most used in His ministry, for they operated on a fisherman's faith, which by the way, is the greatest.
Will you become a fisher of men, too? If you need help, please contact me soon for I'm pressing towards 75 now.
Capt. Ben Marler, a longtime Destin resident, fisherman, and author of “Old Destin Through the Eyes of a Child.” “4 o’clock in the morning,” and “I Am Not Ashamed of Jesus,” can be reached at email@example.com.