~Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
As we drove towards our destination, my younger brother, Jacob, vented about the heartache and frustration he felt from going through a bitter divorce. Our objective that night was to fish a tiny creek full of Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which I lovingly call “Trickle Creek.” I figured this might ease the heavy burden that Jake is under for there is a peace I find on the water that I find in few other places.
As an attorney, I have seen firsthand how difficult and ugly divorces can be. I have heard that the three most traumatic things a person can go through in life are: bankruptcy, the death of a loved one, and divorce. Divorce is probably the most difficult because the person you formally loved is still alive, but does not want you anymore. In my experience, people going through divorce are consumed by it and can think of nothing else. I don’t blame them; their whole world has been turned upside down. I always tell my clients, “There is no worse kind of hate than love gone bad.”
Once we reached the canyon, through which Trickle Creek flows, I told Jake, “Alright, we’re not going to talk about the divorce while we are fishing. Give it a rest and just enjoy yourself.”
“I’m sorry, I did not mean to bring you down with all this.” Jake apologized.
“Brother, don’t apologize,” I replied. “I understand what you’re going through. I deal with this every day with my clients and I know that when you are in the thick of it, it’s hard to think of anything else. But it will do you good to let it go for awhile.”
“This is the worst thing I have ever gone through!” Jake exclaimed, “How do you deal with the stress of this every day in your practice?”
“We are doing it, Brother. I go fishing!” I replied. “There is no better way to relieve stress or to ease a troubled mind.”
At our first stop on an upper stretch of the little creek, Jake caught five fish on the fly in about five minutes while I caught none. With the sun setting to the west behind me, I just could not get close enough to cast without casting my shadow over the skinny water causing fish to bolt in all directions at my approach, not to mention that I busted off my fly on an annoying weed along the creek bank on one of my first casts.
|Brother Jake casts his cares on Trickle Creek.|
When we drove back down the road to fish another stretch of the creek, the sun had descended below the surrounding mountains. I no longer had to worry about my shadow on the creek, but I kept jerking my grasshopper pattern out of the fish’s mouth while attempting to set the hook. I definitely struggled at first to catch a fish.
|Jake casts to a big cutthroat.|
Jake and I fished together and took turns fishing the little holes. After I finally caught a nine-inch cutthroat, it was Jake’s turn and I noticed a nice cuttie in a riffle above the hole I had just fished. In fact, I watched the big trout chase a smaller trout out of his lie. Jake crossed the creek in order to get a good angle and, on his first cast, the trout swerved over to the Mother Chukar fly and sucked it in. After a good fight, Jake had a brilliant thirteen-inch Yellowstone Cutthroat in hand. It was the biggest fish I had ever witnessed from Trickle Creek.
“Man, Jake, you are on a conquest tonight!” I exclaimed. “You are out-fishing the heck out of me!”
Jake looked at me, smiled and humbly replied, “The Good Lord is just showing me his tender mercies.”
|A tender mercy.|
“Brother, I have no doubt about that.” I testified, “When you are having a hard time, He most certainly does that for those who seek His help. I have experienced that many times in life, especially on the water.”
We fished down the creek and hit all of the likely-looking holes and runs and the fish were exactly where we thought they should be, which is why I love this tiny creek. And at hopper time it really shines.
I finally started to hook into some fish consistently and when I landed a trout almost as nice as Jake’s, he praised, “Nice fish!”
I turned to him and stated, “Maybe Heavenly Father pours out his tender mercies on older brothers who take their younger brothers who are having a hard time fishing.”
|Another tender mercy for big brother.|
“I’m sure he does,” replied Jake with a smile.
“Maybe you need to have a tough time more often so that we have an excuse to go fishing together,” I said in jest.
Jake just laughed. It was good to see him be lighthearted for a moment.
We continued fishing until we could no longer see our flies on the water and then we headed for home in the twilight.
I would never wish on anyone what Jake is going through. I’m just glad I could take him fishing on Trickle Creek to help ease some of his stress and heartache and to help him experience some of the Lord’s tender mercies. Jake will come out on top of this trial, I have no doubt.