Monday, February 21, 2011

Knowin' vs. Guessin'

A quick check of current bass fishing lures at a major retailer lists 937 types. With each type, there are size and color variations on the average of 22 per type. Multiply those together and you need a tackle box that can hold 20,614 items.

What's a fisherman to do? Unless he is on speaking terms with a largemouth bass (and I know a few people who ARE), he is forced to guess. There are, however, different levels of guessing.

Take Homer and his wife, Etta, for example. Being the romantic husband that he is, Homer decided to take Etta fishing on Valentine's Day. Actually, he had planned on taking her to the Dairy Queen but it wasn't his fault the bass began their pre-spawn activity on Valentine's Day!

So the two lovebirds hopped into the john boat and headed to the north end of the lake. Being the generous and loving husband that he is, Homer rigged Etta's pink and purple female-type fishing pole with a Texas-rigged, super killin', hog smashin' craw-worm. He told her to chunk it on out there, let it hit bottom, and then slowly crank it in, giving the rod an occasional pop. Even though Etta never said, "Huh?" - Homer knew the look. Being the patient husband that he is, he chunked it out there for her and demonstrated his prior instructions.

After a long ten minutes of fishing and catching nothing, Etta went to fiddling around in Homer's tackle boxes.

"What are you doing, sugar muffin?" asked Homer.

"I'm looking for something else to fish with. Something with a little bling to it," answered Etta. She looked up at him with her one good eye and grinned that gorgeous, albeit toothless, grin that always melted his heart. He returned the grin with a nod and a half smile, then turned where she couldn't see him smirk.

Homer thought to himself, "Bling? Did she say bling? It's a tackle box, not a jewelry box. She ain't gonna catch nothin. And when I catch me a hawg on this here craw-worm, she'll be sorry she didn't listen to the master!"

Homer prided himself on knowing exactly what the fish were biting. He even bragged to his buddies that God blessed him with a fish's brain and he "knowed what they were thinkin'."

Etta pulled a ten-inch worm out of the bottom of Homer's tackle box and held it up. "Can I try this one?" she asked.

Homer had no idea how such a worm ever made it's way into his tackle box. That worm was a sight! It looked like a mardi gras parade puked all over it. It had every bright-colored, glittery speck you could imagine imbedded into it's black and motor-oil colored body.

Homer spit. Then he spoke. "Apparently, that old worm has set too long on the bottom of my tackle box," he said. "And all the glitters and sparkles from other baits melted into it. That's the ugliest thing I ever saw! The fish ain't gonna hit that thing. In fact, it'll probably scare 'em all away...honey pie."

She batted her eye, squared her jaw, and tried to stand up in the boat so she could put her hands on her hips (a posture Homer knew all too well). "But, but, but, if my four-leaf clover darlin' wants to fish with that," Homer corrected himself. "Then, by golly, she's gonna fish with it."

Etta sat back down and grinned like a giddy school girl. Homer took the bling mardi gras puke worm from her hand and put it on her hook. It went against every fiber of his being and he hoped no one could see him. Etta cast the worm about two feet, making an awful splash as that big worm hit the water right next to the boat.

While Homer was shaking his head and whispering his good-byes to all the bass in a two-mile radius, Etta's pole went to bending and Etta went to screaming, "I got one!"

"No way!" Homer shouted before he could stop himself.

"Yes, way!" Etta yelled back. "Stop standin' there gawkin'. Get the net!"

"You sure it ain't a stump or a gar or a trot line?" Homer asked and instantly regretted asking it. Before that sentence got to "trot line," Homer knew the answer. A bass so big it would be a wallhanger in Jimmy Houston's house (pause for a moment of silence at the mention of his name) jumped straight up out of the water, did a hula dance in mid-air with five inches of puke worm hanging out of her mouth, and headed straight back down.

"Hang on, Etta! I'm gettin' the net. Give her some slack or she'll break your line," Homer shouted.

Etta leered at him and said, "I got this! You just get the net."

Homer did the husband hunker that all men are familiar with. The one that says, "Yes ma'am" without the words.

The fish was longer than the mouth of the net, but they managed to get her into the boat. After a dozen high fives, a thousand hoops and hollers, and a couple of pictures with the polaroid, Etta turned to the crowd that had gathered at the bank and held her lunker hawg big momma bass up like Jay Yelas at the Bassmasters (another pause). She could hear the folks whistling and shouting.

When she turned back around, Homer, being the humble husband that he is, was digging in the bottom of his tackle box for a ten-inch black and motor-oil worm with some bling on it.

The lesson of Homer and Etta is three-fold: 1) Take your dog - NEVER your wife - fishing on Valentine's Day. 2) If you DO take her fishing and she catches a bigger fish than you, DON'T go to the Dairy Queen right after that. 3) No matter how good a guesser you are when it comes to fishing -- everyone occasionally guesses wrong, and anyone can occasionally guess right.

Fishing is guesswork. But you can improve your chances of guessing right by learning patterns, studying the seasonal behavior of fish, discovering what is and is not working from other experienced fishermen (and knowing whether they are lying to you or not), and by following the three P's: practice, practice, practice.

However, even a first-time fisherman can crawl into a boat or stand on a bank and be in the right place at the right time with the right bait. The guesswork factor in fishing is what makes it fun.

Unless you're fishing for answers to life's questions.

Life was never meant to be a guessing game. The Creator of life did not create haphazardly. He created with purpose, design, and compassion. He not only planned YOU, He has a plan FOR you. You don't have to guess. You just have to search.

Where do you begin searching? The first place to search for God's plan for your life is in the Bible. It is God's instruction manual for man. In it, you will find truth. Truth is the guide of life that we all need. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6).

The truth of the Bible also tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). That's not a guess. That's a guarantee from the Manufacturer.

A second place to search is in prayer. Prayer is simply opening your heart to God and talking to Him. You can tell Him how you feel. You can ask Him to show you what He wants you to know. You can ask Him anything. He longs to hear from you. A third place to search is in a healthy church. Being around other followers of Christ gives you people just like you to talk to, lean on, and learn from.

This life and the one following is too important to leave it all up to chance. God wants you to know. He hasn't put 20,614 options in front of you. Just one. His Son. I pray you will accept Jesus as, not only the Savior of the world who died for the sins of the world, but as YOUR personal Savior who loves you and died for you.

Googling Really Large Tackle Boxes,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Game of Life Isn't

Life, for a lot of people, really is like Monopoly. People have their preferences. Some like the race car. Others want the thimble. Everyone has a niche. A thing. A game piece molded into a tiny idol. They go around and around trying to win more stuff than their neighbors while also hoping to avoid penalties and prison. When the game is over, they want to be the one who owns the bank and the board.

What then?

It's still a lot like Monopoly. The game ends. The board is folded up and placed in a box. All the houses and hotels slide off the board and into a bag. All the property cards are rubber-banded together and placed in a plastic holder. The winner realizes all that he or she has won is fake. All that paper money and all those property cards mean nothing in the end. You can't take them with you.

The luck of the dice and the legs of skilfull ability can only take a person so far. Then comes the end. And in the end, it will not matter what you've accomplished or accumulated. Your lifeless arms will be folded and your body will be placed in a box. Game over.

Or is it?

Have you ever played a game with someone who changed the rules for his or her own benefit? Penalties that applied to you did not apply to them for some obscure reason. Rewards that advanced them did not advance you.

Funny how people like to shape their own realities with nothing to go on but their own selfishly-shaped perceptions. It is most obvious when you talk to them about "Game Over."

Ask them what happens when you die and you will hear about heaven, nirvana, reincarnation, and a few who believe you just stop existing altogether.

They've created a monopoly world and changed some of the squares. They don't like the idea of hell, so they cut and paste "Free Parking" over it. They don't like some of the truths in the Bible, so they remove those verses from the card pile.

Oh, but they like heaven. So, all four corners of their board lead to heaven.

How would you feel if you were the creator of the game, the writer of the rules, the placer of the squares, and you made your game public only to find everyone else manipulating your monopoly?

Probably the same way Elizabeth Maggie Phillips felt. Lizzie, a Quaker, invented a game board in 1903 and called it "The Landlord's Game." The purpose of Lizzie's game was to teach people how monopolies end up bankrupting the many while giving extraordinary wealth to one person. It was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of greed.

People started playing her game and it had the opposite impact on them. Instead of teaching them to beware of greed, it fed their greed. They liked winning. They enjoyed taking everyone else's property and money. Others took her idea and redeveloped it into Monopoly. Wikipedia calls Monopoly "the domination of a market by a single entity."

Can you imagine how Lizzie felt?

God can.

God made life, created the players, wrote the rules, and placed the truths of eternity squarely into reality. He put the cards in the pile that say, "Do not..." He filled the board with good things and gave clear instructions on how to find them and how to avoid the bad things. And even when bad things were inevitable and the players needed a helping hand, God put His own Son into the game. Jesus is the "Get out of hell free" card of life.

But we keep trying to change His rules. We keep editing what He has written. We keep sticking temporary labels over permanently etched facts.

There is an enormous difference between Lizzie and God that you need to know about. Lizzie was powerless to stop the manipulation of her creation. In fact, she even succombed to it and republished her game to take advantage of everyone's greed and accumulate her own.

God is not powerless. You can try to rewrite the game all you want. You cannot erase what He has written. Cancel hell on your board. But it will still be on God's board. What God calls sin on His board will still be punishable no matter what you've called it on yours.

God loves you. Because He does, He wants you to know the truth. And it doesn't matter if your name is Rich Uncle Pennybags with your little moustache, smoking jacket, walking cane, and top hat --- Only the truth can set you free.

This isn't a game.