by Dr. John Stumbo, President of the C&MA
It’s a good thing I’m not a fish. I’d be dead. In-a-frying-pan dead.
I was in northern Wisconsin for a couple days during the summer. With a significant decision to make and numerous writing projects to pursue, I accepted the kind offer of a lakeside cabin to use as a retreat. No running water. No electricity. No Internet. No neighbors. Perfect.
No excuses to do anything but pray, write . . . and, of course, fish.
It was my first time on the water this year. I came loaded with all the new lures that I was given as Christmas presents or picked up at winter clearance sales. Each lure is bright, shiny, colorful and attractive . . . at least to me. The fish seemed less than impressed by my selection.
I think the lures look fabulous. Life-like. Look at that motion. The colors! The schmaltz! The wiggle! The dart! It’s an engineering work of art.
As I said, if I were a fish, I’d be dead. I’d be biting on every one of those glitzy imitations of . . . well, whatever they are trying to imitate.
But the fish in this lake were more discerning. I gave almost my whole tackle box a “bath,” but each lure (except one) was put back in the box unscathed. An overly aggressive 22-inch bass gave in to the temptation of my trusty “Rattlin’ Rap.” Lucky for big mouth bass, I’m a catch-and-release fisherman, and he’s back swimming freely in the lily pads.
Most of us aren’t so lucky.
Lures are flung into our waters all day. Each person is tempted when by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed, James teaches us (1:14). Satan and demons—I believe—know our evil inclinations. Advertisers and marketers—it is obvious—know them as well. Just as a good lure is designed to appeal to a fish’s instincts, every temptation is designed to appeal to ours. Buy this and you’ll be happy. Oh, that’s a successful one. Lots of glitz goes with it. And it seems true for a while as the adrenaline boost of shopping or the “look what I own” pride satisfies temporarily.
No one will ever know. It’s your life; just do what you want. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s okay. Ever hear that one whispered to you? This “lure” runs a little deeper. Your personal happiness is all that matters. Nothing should get in the way of what makes you feel good. Magazines, talk shows, book shelves and some counseling offices drag this one in front of us every chance they can.
Completely trusting God is risky. Don’t totally commit. Lean on Him a little, if you must, but whatever you do, don’t fully rely on Him. I’m not the first to say it, but many people have just enough of the gospel to inoculate them from the real thing. Half-hearted commitment is a treble-hooked lure that is hard to shake once it has caught us in its barbs.
Only listen to the voices that make you feel good. Guilt is always bad. Conviction and accountability are such a drag. You can always find someone who will affirm you. Affirmation is good. Always seek affirmation. This lure sounds quite trendy, but it’s actually ancient. Jeremiah called it out 2,600 years ago: “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way” (5:31).
I’m not going to try to expose every lure in the demons’ tackle box, and you probably could spot these already. But, just in case you’re like me, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded: Not everything swimming past you is dinner. Sometimes it’s trying to make dinner out of you.
Satan’s not known to be the “catch-and-release” type.