Saturday, June 23, 2007

Taking the Bait


There's a 12-year-old boy named Josh who has become our fishing guide this summer. He's found his way to our pond from another neighborhood and he's become a new friend to my three boys. Josh is a serious fisherboy... a kid who'd rather be at the other end of a fishing pole than a Play Station. He's given us lots of good, practical fishing tips. He told us all about the perils of grabbing a stinging catfish by the backfin and knew before I put my Sara Lee All-Natural Roasted Turkey Luncheon Meat on the hook that it would fail (a botched attempt at worm avoidance on my part...)

Our little fishing party did have a rather harrowing moment last week (well... harrowing for me and a fish, anyway). John's line began to jerk and we all rushed to see what was churning through the water. Up flung a medium-sized catfish in a flopping state of freak-out. Josh was the first to arrive on the scene.

"Look at that," he exclaimed! "That fish swallowed the hook!"

"Oh!" I cried. "We have to get it out!"

"You can't do that," Josh shot back. "It'll tear out its guts!"

Mere mention of the word "guts" made me swoon. John and I, new fisherpeople, looked at each other with E.T. eyes.

"Oh, that makes sense," I whispered, contemplating two very unsettling options. "So what do we do, Josh?" I asked.

"Cut the line," he replied, "that's the only thing we can do."

So that's what we did. And somewhere out there... (or maybe not)... there's a fish with a fading memory of a turkey roll-up and a permanent hook in its belly.

I'm still really upset about that fish... wondering if we did the right thing. And, for the first time, I really, really appreciate the power of a good fish analogy as we contemplate some aspects of living, particularly sin.

The Bible has its share of fish accounts and how many times have we heard sermons wrap around this theme? Like the "don't take the bait" admonitions regarding temptation. In that poor fish that swallowed John's hook, I now have a vivid and unsettling mental image of what happens in the wake of the "bait" we consume, whatever that represents in each of our lives. Like ripping a hook from the bowels of a fish, entrenched sin will leave us in pain, altered and, assuming we survive, scarred.

Sure would be depressing if that were the end of the story.

Thanks to a merciful God, it's not...

"... count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11

Coming Next Week: A wonderful interview with DTS graduate and 121 Community Church Women's Lifegroup & Pastoral Care Minister Kathy Padgett on getting through grief.

(Pic by 'scratch'; see http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=450857095&size=l for restrictions.)

On my I-pod... Guitar and Pen by The Who

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