Springtime in Taos. When the winds aren’t howling or flurries aren’t threatening to surprise us one last time, anglers in northern New Mexico are getting out their fishing gear. I've renewed my love for fly fishing, as I'm surrounded by lots of streams to wade into and catch some beautiful trout. There’s something about being one with nature in the wide open spaces. Whether I’m fishing, writing a blog while sitting in my garden, or designing a new piece of jewelry while watching it rain, I love the quietness of nature. It’s also in these spaces that I do a great deal of praying and reflecting.
It’s no wonder Jesus used the analogy of fishing when encouraging disciples Peter and Andrew to join Him in his ministry. Being “fishers of men” was and still is a noble calling. It takes courage, compassion and a whole heapin’ amount of patience and love. Whether serving in missions, working at one’s local church or simply talking to a neighbor about the love of our Savior, spreading the good news is one of life’s most important works.
But then there’s a whole different kind of fishing that exists in our world as well. It’s not half as fun, even though it sure is enticing for a little while. One of the Enemy’s favorite ways to drag us away from God is through temptation. Oh, he’s quite the fisherman. He has bait of every kind in his tacklebox and knows exactly what kind to use on each “fish.” For those insecure swimmers who never feel smart or pretty enough, he uses flashy lures like material objects that promise irresistibility. He can even distinguish people from all logic, encouraging them to post lewd photos on social media. The lure of a thumbs up or false flattery can cause even the strongest of “fish” to go into a dizzying tail spin. Yes, ever so slowly the enemy begins to reel us all in. Sadly, it seems as if he goes after innocent guppies as well, for he finds that the younger ones are now even easier to fool.
But perhaps you’re one of the wiser fish in the sea? You’re older, more experienced and have seen such lures before. You wince when recalling the countless times in which you were jerked around emotionally. You may even have a few scars from the tiring struggle: financial woes, pain from past relationships, or memories that threaten to keep you in the past may still linger within your heart. You’ve vowed that the next time temptation bobs up and down in front of you, you’ll simply swim in the other direction.
But it’s then that the Evil angler has no choice but to break out the big guns. Oh, he has them—they’re merely tucked away in his special tackle box. He knows exactly what type of fish prefers which type of bait, and even knows when and where to cast his line for the most success. The enemy knows full well that with the smartest of fish (or those filled with the Spirit) have to be enticed inconspicuously. So ,his “big guns” or special lures are often camouflaged to look as if they’re an innocent part of your surroundings: one simple drink couldn’t possibly affect your judgement; a kind reply to that flirtatious text was totally harmless; clicking on that one link on your smart phone just meant you were curious about things. You’re way too smart of a fish to fall for anything stupid.
But then suddenly, BAM, you’re hooked. Regardless of how much you flail, twist, cry and moan, you get reeled in. You may desperately look for friends to help free you, but suddenly notice they’re nowhere to be found. You pray that someone could simply cut the line so you could swim away. You’ve learned your lesson and willing to accept the scars that’ll remain with you, if you could only escape one last time. But it’s no use, the Enemy angler has caught you hook, line and sinker. He’s pulled you into the boat, ready to destroy and devour. You’re almost certain life is over and are overwhelmed with the shame of knowing you fell for yet another stupid lure. How could you?!
Sound familiar? Let’s face it, we’re all in the same boat. (pun intended) We’re human, and time and again we fall for what seems to be harmless enticements, only to be hurt once more. No one said life is easy and that we’d be in a temptation free zone on this earth. And for those fish who think it could never happen to you, take notice, for the enemy knows full well your hiding spots.
But thanks to an incredible savior, we have someone who is willing and able to grab us by our hearts and breathe new life into us. The living water He provides will nourish and sustain us, but we must choose to live in it. Does that mean the water is crystal clear, without a tempting lure in sight ? I think we all know the answer to that one. But His love and mercy never ends. He will continue to cleanse us in the water, urging us to swim freely and thrive. But we must also be cautious. We know from this “fish tale” that fake lures are always waiting to ensnarl us. If you’re like me and still have a few remnants of “fishing line” or shame still stuck in your life, I encourage you to forget about it. Consider those things non-existent, just as Jesus looks upon your heart and pronounces a “not-guilty” verdict.
Although this post is filled with analogies, I can’t help but encourage my readers to swim into His light, declare Him your King and know that you are loved immensely. You are safe with Jesus, regardless of the lures that may plop down before you. Be on guard and look for the warning signs. Share that knowledge with others and help them navigate these harmful waters as well. Of course, I’m tempted to say we must simply be “schooled” in the art of staying close to our protector, but that might be one pun too many. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone. And for those that may go fishing, I hope you catch a whopper!
Brightest of Blessings,