Warm summer days were great for going fishing when I was nine. I lived in a small town where the local funeral home had an estate with a meandering little creek that I like to fish in. One spot that I favored was a footbridge that spanned the creek about eight feet above it. I would lay down on the bridge and lower my line and hook into the water because I could see clear to the bottom from that vantage. Honestly, I don’t remember ever seeing fish in that water, but there were crawdads aplenty. I derived hours of amusement from lowering the line near the hidey-holes of the crayfish and waiting for them to dart out and grab on with their pincers. Then I would reel them up. Most of the time, they would release their hold and fall back into the water. Occasionally, I’d catch one that refused to release the hook even when it was in my hands. Other times, I’d delight to see the same crawdad rush out and fasten on the hook over and over, releasing as it was reeled up. Those crawdads could not grasp the bigger picture that included a human being taunting them with a shiny hook. I had no use for the crayfish when I did catch them, so I generally put them back. I certainly would not have been open to cooking them up as is the custom in some places.

Those crawdads simply did not learn from their experiences. If I dangled the hook just right, they couldn’t help themselves, they always seemed compelled to latch on no matter how often they’d done so before. Had I been of an inclination to do them harm, their own predilections would have been their undoing. People and lowly crustaceans alike can be driven by impulse into self-defeating behaviors. As a somewhat innocuous illustration of this, I perturbed someone close to me by absent-mindedly checking my phone in the middle of “listening” to something that person was saying. That phone could easily have been a shiny hook dangling enticingly before me. This makes me wonder how many things are there that we do without really considering the bigger picture. How many important decisions in life are made from the limits of our immediate perspective?

Our proclivity to be focused on a mere splinter of the whole panorama works to give sin a great advantage in snaring us into troubles, sorrows, and ruin. It is therefore one of the Devil’s great goals to keep us living with a distracted and unmindful lifestyle that merely seeks to impulsively react to urges and attractions. The crayfish did not have the eyesight nor the intelligence to perceive my presence nor my role in the causation of its capture. We, on the other hand, have access to one who knows all, sees all, and desires the best for us. God can give us perspective, insight, and protection. This requires that we seek God’s wisdom for our decisions. We need to train ourselves in godly ways of acting and responding so that we are not controlled by our impulses and drives.

Instant gratification is usually the path to a long-term detriment. That hook might look shiny and desirable, but the one who places it in front of us is the enemy of all that is good. Satan has no interest in releasing his prized catch because he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. The solution God offers is for us to seek His will in all things. The prayer Jesus taught His disciples is a great framework for living with the perspective, guidance, provision, and protection of God.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: Always start with God since He sees and knows all and wants the best for us.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Set your desires on what God offers, in God’s way and timing. You may have to delay gratification or forego it entirely, in the moment, but that is the price of experiencing heaven’s blessings on earth and beyond.

Give us this day our daily bread: Is that morsel that tantalizes in the moment the nourishment that God intends for you? Or is it the bait of Satan? Wise are those who seek God and eat from His loving hands.

And forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us: Forgiveness is how we get off the hook. If we are unwilling to forgive, we cling tightly to the snares of the Devil to our own detriment. God’s forgiveness rescues us from the menu of evil.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: God can help us to see the tricks and traps of sin and Satan. When we seek to orient every aspect of our life with God we are delivered from the power of evil. Even though the world we live in is like a meandering creek, it is also the estate of a mortuary. But God is greater than death.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forevermore. Amen: We start by looking to God and we end by praising God and in this way, we dwell in peace, hope, joy, and blessing.

Contact Pastor Lamb at icumc@yahoo.com.