Sometimes when I find myself wading in a river with nary a bite I think: ‘If I can’t even figure out where the wily trout is lurking, how can I solve the mysteries of life?’
Every respectable fly fisherman is supposed to be proficient in tying all the right knots. When I try to use my finger to tie the ‘nail knot’ it gets caught every time. The old reliable ‘clinch knot’ somehow becomes a slip knot. Even the so-called improved clinch knot fails me at times. Now what kind of knot do I use to tie the fly onto the tippet? Is it the overhand? No, that’s not secure enough. How about the Palomar? That should hold without weakening the line. Then there’s the surgeon’s knot. It’s all so confusing.
Pardon me, if I see a close parallel between fishing and moral dilemmas. Do you ever feel tied up in knots, by the thunderous negatives of your moral code? ‘THOU SHALT NOT….’ When I was a kid growing up in Sunday school, I often felt that God was a Big Bully who wanted to take all the fun out of life. Everything I wanted to do seemed like a no-no according to my moral code. As we used to joke: ‘I can’t dance and I can’t chew and I can’t go with girls that do.’ So, I exhausted myself trying to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. After awhile I gave up in discouragement.
Now that I have had more time to read the Fishing Manual, I have discovered that for every negative prohibition in the Bible there are several positive affirmations. For every ‘thou shalt not steal’ there is a ‘thou shalt honor your father and your mother.’
I have found the fishing better, when I have accentuated the positive. The bird nests and back lashes of life seem more manageable when I lubricate my line with a positive attitude. I know I can’t eliminate the negative, nor would I want to. There are times when a decisive ‘no’ is needed to shut the door on temptation; ‘I will not!’ But those uncompromising negatives need not tie us up in knots and squeeze all the joy out of life. The next time you tie your shoes remember they can be snug without binding. I like that figure eight knot, symbol of eternity which holds tight but leaves some breathing room.
The Master Fisherman showed us the way when he summarized the 10 Commandments into two; ‘thou shalt love God with all your heart’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ If we concentrate on those two things, all the rest will fall into place and take care of itself.
Is that good fish philosophy?
About the Author
Marshall Hoffman Is a retired pastor whose mission is to motivate and inspire believers to love God more and serve him better. His bible based insights come from a half century of pastoral service.
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