To catch a love for life you are going to need to go fishing with the right bait. Something sisters Emily and Lacey know only too well. Looking for practical advice on how to snare a man, Lacey hears a voice from God tell her to go buy a bass boat--and the rest is matrimony.
Also by Diana on obooko: Lock, Stock and Barrel
"Emily, God spoke to me."
This was not surprising. Emily's sister was a woman of faith, and heard from God often. But it was what Lacey claimed to hear that made Emily wonder.
"Are you sure, Lacey? It doesn't sound very scriptural to me." Emily eyed her sister skeptically.
"I know His voice, Em. I heard it as clear as I did the time He told me to pray for you, the night of the accident."
But Emily wasn't convinced. "He said, "Lacey go buy a bass boat? That was his exact words? Not Lacey go build a brass boat, or Lacey go fill a wheelbarrow..."
"He didn't say thou shalt or anything like that, but yeah, that's what I heard."
"It would seem to me that God knows you well enough to know you have never
even been on a boat in your life." Emily put down the sweater she had been knitting for the past three years. Today she put the finishing touches on it while her sister was saying her morning prayers, and spent the past few minutes admiring her handiwork.
"Not true. Once dad let me go on a ferry with him."
"Do you even know what a bass boat looks like?"
Lacey shrugged. "I suppose, like a boat only you use it for bass."
"It's a fishing boat. I saw it on television at Raymond's." This of course, made Emily the authority. "I think it has big nets on the side to catch fish."
Lacey searched the room for the remote. "It's Saturday. I know there's fishing shows on the country music channel." She flipped channels until she found Fred Smith's BassFishin' World. Fred and a celebrity friend were aboard a boat on Dale Hollow Lake comparing lures.
"Hey, look Emily. No worms, just fake things. I could do that," commented
Lacey. "It looks simple enough."
"You think God is calling you to fish?" Emily made a face.
"No, that's not what I was praying about, but it looks like fun. Ooh, Em! They caught one and it only took about thirty seconds."
"That's fast," agreed Emily. The men on the screen made it look simple. "Do you think we could do that?"
"Why not?" Asked Lacey. "Guys do it all the time. How hard can it be?"
"So, is that like a bass boat?" Emily asked, squinting her eyes to see better.
"It must be. He's fishing for bass," Lacey reasoned. She switched off the set. "So what do you say? Shall we go look?"
"Today?" Emily replied. "Shouldn't you pray about this first, get some
Lacey rolled her eyes and sighed. "God told me. Who am I to doubt His voice?
Get your shoes on, little sister. We're going to find us a bass boat."
"Hold it a minute, big spender. Number one, these things cost money. Number two, where do we go? I mean, there aren't boat malls, right?"
"Oh. Right." Lacey bit her lip as she thought. "I'm going to use my share of grandpa's trust money. I've never really touched it."
"But Lacey, he said it was for our future, when we get married."
Lacey put her hands on her hips and shook her head. "That's exactly what I'm saying. I've been praying for years, Emily that God would help me find someone to share my life with. I'm twenty-seven and my chances are diminishing rapidly. Today I prayed God would tell me what I needed to do to attract a man."
"He couldn't tell you to dress nicely, be yourself or trust Him?"
"I am trusting Him. But I needed practical advice, that's what I prayed about."
Lacey folded her Bible study notes and put them back in her Bible. "He answered me, and I'm going to do what He says."
Emily shook her head in confusion. "It sounds kind of...weird to me."
"Yes, like building an ark. But look what happened to Noah for obeying." Lacey opened the end table drawer and found the phone book. "Here, Emily, see? There are plenty of places to buy boats. Some of them are in town. Let's at least look."
Emily knew better than to argue with her sister once her mind was set. She put the sweater into the box and took it to her room. The study lesson she and her sister had been working on last evening lay on her desk. It was titled, "Fishers of Men."
The fish weren't biting this morning, but Stuart wasn't ready to give in. He cast his line one more time at the rocky cliff that jutted out to the clear, calm water of the lake, let the lure sink, and then pulled it slowly along the bottom. It was quiet today, only the lapping of the waves against the shore and the plop of his lure as it hit the water disturbing the absolute silence. It was to these waters Stuart came when his soul was troubled, the only place he felt at peace, the only place he wanted to be when he felt overwhelmed by his grief.
It had been eighteen months since he lost his sister to cancer, a brief but terrifying battle, only a few short months from the diagnosis until her untimely death. But though she fought it valiantly, she was suffering, and the pain wore her down as quickly as the disease, making death a welcome respite from her torment. Stuart begged both God and Katherine--Kate to her friends--not to give in, or admit defeat, but she sank so rapidly that it was over before Stuart found out what was causing her illness. She tried to help him accept that she was leaving him, telling him she was not so much dying as stepping into eternity with the Savior she loved.
"We're all dying, Stuart," Kate told him in the early stages of her disease when they were both struggling to accept her fate. "What matters most is our destination when we do."
Though Stuart shared her faith in God, and her hope of eternity, it made it no easier to face life on this earth without Kate, who had sacrificed her own life and happiness to raise him when their parents died in a fire. He was thirteen, she was seventeen, and about to leave for college to study marine biology, her dream since childhood. With the loss of their parents, and then their grandfather only months later, Kate and Stuart were alone, left with the family business they had worked in all their lives. It was Kate who made Kingfisher Cove Marina profitable, Kate who added luxury houseboats, fishing charters, souvenirs, and Kate who was the business. When it was passed to them upon their grandfather's death, Kate took the small marina from a rag tag bait shop and boat dock to a summer vacation destination. It was she who ran the office and store, and Stuart who maintained the boats, cleaning, preparing and chartering fishing excursions when needed. They were partners as much as family, and they loved their work. The houseboats were always rented before the summer even began, and in the fall, they were filled with fishermen for a reduced rate. The expanded dock held boats all year round, and the store was a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
Now it was silent. Kate's laughter no longer floated through the windows as she sold penny candy to the children, or teased a fisherman about his catch. Though Stuart still ran the marina, kept the boats maintained, and reservations still sent vacationers to the lake, it was no longer a place of easy, cheerful conversation, no longer did locals and tourists meet to pass the time. Without Kate, the marina lost its charm, and for Stuart it became a place of silence, of grief, of loneliness, the beginning of his solitary existence.
Eric, his friend since childhood, did his best to help his friend in his grief, saying that Kate would not want her brother to live this way, but Stuart rebuffed him.
"Kate loved this marina and the people to which we rented boats and dock space.
I have to keep it going for her, it's what she wanted." If his friend told him he was working too hard, giving up his chance for a normal life, Stuart would counter, "This is my life now. I have to accept it." Though he would have preferred to work alone, he was persuaded to hire an office person, Thelma, who answered phones and took reservations; and a teenager, Adam, who cleaned boats between guests. Thelma, a widow loved Stuart like a son, and Eric's family considered him one of their own, but even in the midst of these caring people he was not able to shake the sense of aloneness, of abandonment. His sister's death was still a raw, aching wound that time and prayer had not been able to heal, though he knew it was not normal to grieve for so long. Help, me, Lord, he would pray as he cast his line on the water, to accept my sister's death and to trust you with the rest of my life. And send me someone, Lord to fill the empty place in my heart, someone that needs to be loved so I won't feel so alone. I can handle everything else, and someday I will accept that Kate is gone and go on. But I just can't seem to do it alone.
He threw his line a few more times. The fish were not biting, and the boats needed to be prepared for the upcoming season. Realizing he was wasting time that needed to be spent on maintenance, Stuart reeled in his line and motored back to the dock.
Eric stopped by Kingfisher Cove with the meal his mother had sent for Stuart, but his friend was not anywhere to be found. Knowing that he was probably fishing, Eric took the food inside to the living quarters behind the marina office and left it in the refrigerator. It was near nine, and the sporting good megastore his father owned, Hook's was already open for business. Stopping to check on Stuart made him late for work, and though he was the boss' son he was nonetheless expected to be on time and working just as any other member of the staff. Al Hook had opened a bait shop thirty years ago with only a handful of money and his sheer determination to support his growing family. Now his children were grown, and the simple bait shop was a sporting goods Mecca, a destination store for hunters, fishermen, anyone who enjoyed the great outdoors. He sold bait, fishing and hunting gear, water sport equipment, camping supplies, and since the beginning of January, just weeks ago, boats. The store was large enough to hold a showroom and even housed a restaurant where the locals and tourists alike could sample lake fish and trade stories of the one that got away.
Eric didn't bother to leave a note for his friend; leaving Stuart dinner was a weekly occurrence. Getting Stuart to join the Hook family at dinner was a cause for celebration; the only time he left the marina was to go to the family store for supplies, and to eat in the restaurant. Eric prayed for his friend daily, that he would be comforted, that his grief would subside, but Eric himself knew the pain of losing Kate. He loved her too, more than he ever let Stuart or Kate herself know. She was four years older than him, and thought of him as a little brother, but he was devoted to her, even if only as her brother's friend. When she died, he thought he would never love again, but unlike Stuart he was able to come to terms with Kate's death, taking comfort from his faith, and the knowledge she was in a much better place.
"Katie, girl," he promised as if she was listening to him speak, "I'll help your brother to smile again if it's the only thing I ever do. I know you don't want him to live this way, and you are probably stamping your foot and yelling at him to get a grip. I'm doing the best I can, so hang in there. I just know something will happen soon."