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A Fish Story

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Yesterday a friend  called me and asked me if I would take some time off of packing and getting ready to move to Eustis, and go fishing with him  and a couple of fellas from the church. I agreed, and then remembered that I needed to write an article for the New Hope Newsletter.  Well, I thought I would cheat this time, and tell you a fish story from last spring here in Baltimore.

A Fish Story

            Well, trout season has officially opened here in Maryland; and I have to confess that I may have been the very first Marylander to wet my hook last Saturday morning.  I was quite eager to catch a few trout this spring.  It is sort of a rite of   spring that reminds me of being at home in Mississippi, fishing with my father and grandfather.  But this year was different.  You see, I caught my first four trout within a very short while.  As I was standing there, I realized that I was not ready to stop (five being the limit).   So, being greedy and wanting to catch the biggest fish of our group, I started casting and throwing back my fifth fish, waiting for that BIG catch.  I probably caught a total of 16 average sized fish  that   I released, all the while waiting for “The Big One”.  Then, in God’s providence, at 7:05 a.m. it was as though someone had thrown the switch and turned off the fish.  I could not get another fish to bite, no matter what lure I tried, or how I retrieved my cast.  I had four nice fish, and could not catch what would be my final fish.  I had been greedy and now I only had four fish to take home.

            I thought, “O.K. Lord.  I know that Your word tells me ‘Let there be no…greed among you.  Such sins have no place among God’s people.   Eph. 5:3   But these are just fish!  Surely that isn’t a big deal.”  But then I was reminded about the things that Jesus had to say to the Pharisees about their hearts – things like:  “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees.  Hypocrites!  You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence!  Blind Pharisees!  First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too.”  Matthew 23:25-26

            What my fish incident revealed was a picture of the true condition of my heart, and a reminder of the heart of our Father in Heaven.  All too easily I can excuse my behavior.  It is easy to rationalized the things we doe.  Now, perhaps my “fish story” doesn’t touch your heart, but I found a great spiritual lesson in it.  I really wanted that last fish to be “The Big One”.  Not that it had to be bigger than everyone else’s fish, just a really nice one.  As I drove home I had the opportunity to share my fish story with my daughter Elizabeth, and with my wife.  I confessed to them that I had been greedy of heart;  and that God had taught me a good lesson about the condition of my heart.  I  would share it  with others so that perhaps they too could profit from my example.

Do you know that Christ’s death and substitution of His record of perfect righteousness has cancelled my sin and has replaced my  record with His perfectly incorruptible and unimpeachable record?  Even my sins today and tomorrow are already forgiven and made right with our Heavenly Father.  As greedy and selfish as my heart really was, my sin was already forgiven and paid for!  What a great God we have!

Now, the end of the story is this.  I came home, put the fish into the sink to clean and filet – and there were FIVE fish, not four, in my creel!  I just laughed.  If I had caught and kept another fish I would have broken the law and could have been fined.  God was protecting me all along, and I didn’t realize it!  That is no “fish story”!       RLB

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