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Monday, July 26, 2010

Fish or Cut Bait?

Ever heard the phrase Fish or Cut Bait? It's an idiom, a saying that means you can't sit the fence. Either you get in the boat and brave the waters to go fishing --OR-- you sit on the dock and cut bait for the fishermen. In a literal sense, I'm not sure the saying is actually accurate, however, the message is completely accurate, somewhat uncomfortable, and absolutely necessary.

I'm speaking to Christians and NonChristians alike here. No exceptions. Not even me. In fact, I'm writing this partly as a confession and a kind of self exhortation. But I hope what I write will have an impact on readers as well.

There is a way, you see, to live life with one foot in God's kingdom, one foot in the world. In this case, the feet I'm talking about are the figurative kind, meaning that we can sort of believe God and sort of try to get our needs met in the world. Or we can have an endless internal debate about God, who He is, and how we experience Him. We can even elevate our own "feelings" as a kind of proxy God. IE: I feel powerfully this way--in love, frightened, depressed--and, in spite of what the Bible says, this is my experience. We go with our gut. It sounds confident, macho even. So there we are, Bible quoting one day, and letting emotions rule us the next. It's a way to live life on the fence…it's a miserable way to live. I know. I've been there. Have you?

The Bible calls this way of living "double minded," and we're told that the double minded man is unstable in all that he does, blown about by wind and tossed by every wave that comes by. Why the ship imagery? I suspect it's because the doubleminded person is a ship who's lost his anchor. The anchor being truth, God's truth revealed in scripture. Without that anchor, without something to hold us firm, we drift every which way. A good friend of mine in high school put it this way, "You got to stand for something, or you're going to fall for anything." True dat.



So here's the choice: Fish or Cut Bait?

For the NonChristian, the choice goes like this:

Either this world, this universe, and everything in it is a great big cosmic accident with no intelligent guidance whatsoever. There's no god. There's no ultimate meaning. There's no ultimate write or wrong. Morality is whatever works, whatever suits you, or whatever suits the society that you randomly were born into. The point of life can be: find something meaningful to do and someone you love to share it with--nevermind that "meaningful" and "love" have ultimately no substance or surety in an abstract, random world. To quote Sheryl Crow, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad," right? Certainly, there's a lot of fun to be had living in an ungoverned universe. Just ignore the pangs of emptiness, even when you've got every single thing, the rest of the world covets: money, property, spouse and family, prestige, gadgetry, food, vacations, etc. etc--and you still aren't fulfilled. Live and let live. Eat, drink, and be merry…for tomorrow, we die.

--OR-- The world was not an accident. The world and the universe and you were designed by an intelligent designer. God, for lack of a better word, made it all. Therefore, this God might have some claim on your life. He might offer some way of knowing Him. He might have some ideas of right and wrong. So you need to investigate. You need to try with all your might to find out who God is and see what He wants of you. You might give prayer a whirl. "God, if you're out there, I'd like to know about you. I'd like to know you. Can you help me?" You might be surprised at what you find.

Procrastination won't work, nonChristian. Putting the decision off isn't really putting the decision off at all. To quote Geddy Lee and RUSH, "If you choose not to decide, you'll still have made a choice."

For the Christian, the choice works like this:

Either God is who He says He is…IE: God loves you so much He let his Son die for you. God wants you to come back to Him always. God listens to you. His ear is inclined to you. God wants nothing but your good--even though painful trials might be necessary to refine you into who you really want to be. God is truthful when He says you are saved, that you can KNOW that you HAVE eternal life. God is truthful that He is preparing a place for you in Heaven which will be beautiful and amazing far beyond our imaginations to conceive. God is truthful when He promises that neither life nor death, angels nor demons, height depth, nor anything else in all of creation can separate you from Him. No matter what you feel in the moment, God is better than that, more loving than that, more forgiving than that, more intelligent than that, and more powerful than that.

--OR--

He's not.

Fish or Cut Bait? You need to decide. Sitting the fence won't work. Delaying the decision is impossible--self deception at best. By the way, I don't think this is a one time choice. You may need to choose daily. You may choose one thing and then, in the middle of the day, catch yourself bowing to the God of emotion. Choose again.

I'm going fishing. Anyone want to come along?

Much love,
-Wayne Thomas Batson


10 comments:

Jake said...

I'm coming! :D

Great post, Mr. Batson. Great post. :)

Jared said...

This was helpful, Mr. Batson. Thanks! I'll be coming fishing with you.

Ryan said...

i would come but i live in fay tn

Cloe said...

Count me in!
Well said Mr. Batson!

Evergreena said...

I don't like fish. But I do like fishing. :) I'm weird.

Great post! Insightful. And I love the quote from your high school friend.

Blessings,
~Evergreena

P.S. I just thought you might want to know that you have "ultimate write or wrong." Hmm... was that on purpose? :D

Jodie said...

I'll definitely be going fishing with you. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

RH said...

Wow. I'm coming! And btw I love your books!

Justin B. said...

This appears to be the type of message in which I can safely read. Meaning there's a tone of humanity and also one of empathy with those who find themselves being disillusioned. There's millions of reasons why sometimes Lord of the Rings proves to be a perfect illustration of the daunting task of being a Christian. Not only is the hero small in stature. But he confronts periods of doubt with his mission. It's the doubt that's an important element of his faith journey. By getting lost temporarily, we can refine ourselves and set the sails as a rejuvenated person.

Again, I thank you for this post! My faith journey's a turbulent storm filled with frustration and unanswerable question. And reading something that does not condescend or belittle greatly helps me to at least some hope in a meaningful life.

Micah Byler said...

I'm coming!!! If it's in a book, or in a blog, your writing encourages me greatly!

Jayne said...

Wonderful challenge Mr. Batson. I'm going fishing. Thank you for posting this. May many people come to know our King through it.