Last Saturday, my family and I had a cookout and went fishing. We had a really enjoyable time, visiting with everyone, throwing the football a little, eating good food and spending the day together.
The weather was quite pleasant for early June in south Alabama, with the skies overcast for much of the day and a gentle breeze. It was a good day.
Growing up, my dad took me fishing a good bit. It's something we both enjoyed and gave us a great opportunity to spend time together at something other than work.
Unfortunately, I haven't shared that same experience as often with my son, who is 11 years old as I'm writing this, primarily due to the lack of convenient access to a pond or good fishing spot. So this Saturday was only his second fishing experience.
I hadn't been fishing in years, myself, so I was re-learning some basics and teaching them to him—much like trying to write with your non-dominant hand, it was slow and awkward.
I was very proud of him, though, because he picked it up quickly and stuck with it for several hours, non-stop.
I talked to him about the strategy of fishing—though I'm admittedly no expert, mind you.
"Safety first. Watch out for other people when you cast. Keep away from that tree so you don't get hung up. Be careful where you step. Watch out for snakes. Aim for places where you think a fish might be, such as in that shady inlet over there. Picture what the fish sees when your lure is in the water. Reel your line in slowly, with an occasional twitch, in order to fool that fish into biting."
Today, I've been reflecting on a couple of these fishing tips I gave my son and spiritual applications we can draw from them.
"Fool the fish into biting. Picture what that fish sees under water and entice it so it can't resist this yummy meal."
I mean, how stupid are these fish?
They're down there swimming around, minding their business, doing what fish do, when all of a sudden they hear a noise.
Startled, they quickly spin around to get a glimpse of what made that loud plop.
"Hey, that looks interesting. Let me swim over and take a look at this, all bright and shiny. Oh, you poor thing, you're hurt and unable to move fast. Boy, I sure am hungry! You look like a nice snack."
"Hey, what happen...ouch! That hurts! Get me outta here!!!"
"Hey Dad, look at this! I got one!"
As I thought about how fish are caught, I initially found myself being critical of them.
Then it hit me: Humans are exactly the same as fish when it comes to sin and life choices.
We're just swimming through life when, all of a sudden, something grabs our attention.
"Hey, that looks like fun," we think.
So much that looks attractive to us is actually harmful or sinful—like a bright shiny fishing lure to that bass.
All too often, our initial intrigue gets the best of us and, before we know it, we've swallowed that lure and we're hooked.
Very rarely does sin show its true face to us before we've fallen for it. Only the vilest of behaviors does humanity readily acknowledge as evil, and this list is shrinking every day, it seems.
Child abusers and molesters, murderers, drug dealers, and rapists are among the last remaining holdouts in this universally-recognized-as-evil category.
Just like fish, we are often unable to see what is good for us.
The fish has no idea what the consequences will be of swallowing that beautiful lure.
Likewise, humans have no idea what the long-term outcome will be of our sinful decisions.
Oh, sure, that high feeling from drugs looks great when you're dealing with so many problems in life, but what does the addict look like three years after diving head-first into drug abuse?
Yep, that woman you've formed an overly-close relationship with at work sure is beautiful, but what will your kids, your wife, and your parents think about you once you've ruined your marriage and split your family to pursue an adulterous relationship?
James warned the first century Christians about human desires, saying:
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
(Jam. 1:13-15 NIV)
Yes, friends, I'm fairly certain that, if Jesus were on earth today, He would have told at least one parable about the fish who was ensnared by the crafty fisherman and his beautiful bait.