Not My Faithfulness



While on a camping and fishing trip, I woke up to find that someone had stolen my fishing rod.

Camped along this gold medal Colorado stream, I had ventured into this quasi-wilderness to have some alone time to fish and think. Shortly after my divorce, I felt sad. I was ready to get on with my life but I did not know exactly, in the business leadership vernacular, what next action step to take.

And so, when you don’t know what to do, going fishing and camping is as sound an idea as any.

The night before the theft, I had a grand time. I even caught a rather nice fish, which for me is due more to luck than skill. Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty good. I reeled in my line and sat on large flat rock in the middle of the river with my thoughts and the sunset.

I only tell you this next part to explain how someone might have came to know that I had a fly rod in my camp and that it was accessible in that it was leaning against the tree that grew next to my tent.

While sitting and reflecting on what I have come to call “the year of mountain convalescence” i.e. the time I spent in a Colorado ski town healing up after a rather difficult two years when my now ex-wife had cancer.  When she got well, she left me for our vet.

I noticed that the other campers were moving along the bank of the stream in the dusk searching with flashlights for I knew not what.

Curious, I stepped off my rock and waded to shore to see what was up. As it turned out, my neighbors were looking for their three-year-old son.

I figured the boy, rather than slipping and falling into the river, something that would have been hard to miss from my vantage point, probably got scared of the fire and the reveling and went to sleep in the car. His adults were pretty drunk. They checked the car and I was right. Unfortunately, they had roused a search party from the other 6 or 8 tent sites that combed the campground for the boy.

We all calmed down and I went into the tent to sleep.

I woke early the next morning and discovered the results of the karmic felony. My plan was to fish so I got dressed and actually reached for the missing fly rod.

You know when you’ve been wronged or violated. It stings. I was fuming mad. It was daybreak and someone had lifted one of my possessions and had done so whilst I slept fifteen feet away. I immediately walked around the circle that made up the campground and thought very seriously about barging in and over turning camp mattresses. But then, I remembered that this is still sort of the Wild West and people who have guns like to bring guns to the National Forest.  I needed a new plan. And for an entire day, I sat in a chair and brooded.

For, after the anger had subsided, I began to start thinking of all I’d lost in that year. I failed to mention that earlier in the summer someone swiped my mountain bike. I already told you about my wife and the vet-the same vet that put down my dog after I lost my job. It was a pitiful. But there was evening and there was morning, a new day dawned and I drove back to town and went to church.

I told a friend there about what happened. I told him about the fly rod. He gave me understanding nod. I told him how it was a present from my ex. He told me that God took my fly rod. I had a hard time believing that and drove back to the campground for one more afternoon by the river.

Sitting by the river, I kept thinking of a bible verse. Luke 6:29. It’s the turn the other cheek advice that Jesus gives. He also says that if a man takes your cloak then you should give him your tunic also.

I’m not real sure what cloaks and tunics are but it gave me an idea of how to get closure from this crime. The thief only took the rod and reel. He left the rod case, the reel case, the tackle box and some other useful stuff. And I had this book by Tom Rosenbauer. It was the Orvis Guide to fly-fishing.

I took out a pen and wrote on one of the last pages of the book -“To the person who lifted that four piece fly rod from my campsite last night: Here is the rod case. When you break the rod down you should put it in here for protection. I have also included the reel case. The outside is soft and somewhat water resistant and can be used to dry the reel before you stuff it inside. This book in your hands is a pretty good reference for someone interested in learning the quiet sport of fly-fishing. –Jeff

I put the book opened to the page where I wrote the note, leaned the cases against the wall next to the campground bathroom door and went to sleep. When I woke to nature’s call the next morning the cases and the book were gone. I drove into town and went to work.

I told the story to several friends. One of who told me I should write it up and send it to the newspaper. So I did.

Now this wouldn’t be so amazing if I was to tell you that I always do what Jesus tells us to do. In fact, all of my aforementioned problems have been due to my unfaithfulness to this doctrine. I take full responsibility. But at a time when I when I needed to learn that God is faithful, I got a chance to see that occur.

Several days had passed since I sent in the letter to the newspaper devoid of condemnation. Several people read it and most spoke of hanging the thief. But one person who read it, actually called me. His name was James Hathaway. He was calling from Orvis, a fly-fishing company in Vermont, and he told me that he and Tom Rosenbauer were in Vail over the weekend and read my letter in the newspaper. He told me that the company wanted to replace all my gear, which they did and much more with much nicer stuff. Tom Rosenbauer also called. He sent me a new, signed copy of his book. “To Jeff, I hope this is a suitable replacement,” he wrote. The fly rod has my name engraved in cursive on the base – “Jeff McAbee”

So, now I have this tangible reminder, that when I need to make a decision or some situation requires my attention, in stead doing it my way, the way that comes more natural to me, I have a suitable replacement.

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