Being Schooled by Randy Rowley 9/17/16 ©


Early Labor Day morning, Rex Yokum and I met at the Lake Decker boat ramp east of Austin.  After we launched, we slowly proceeded to the lake’s north arm.  Our crawling speed wasn’t due to the darkness.  No, it was due to a far worse enemy – heavy fog!  Fortunately, my GPS was working fine, and it got us to our starting point across from the dam.

Rex had a strong hit in no time on a plastic worm but missed the bass.  Then it became the fishing equivalent of silence.  There were no blow-ups, and I didn’t even get a bump on my dog walker (a topwater lure that zigzags with the proper wrist action) or hollow body (soft plastic) frog.  Rex’s topwater torpedo lure with a soft, pliable rotating tail on its harness also didn’t generate any interest.

We then ran over to the lily pads, and despite seeing three blow-ups, we couldn’t generate any interest in our topwater lures.  Next, we fished the hot water discharge and struck out.  We tried swimbaits, lipless crankbaits, square bill crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft jerk baits, plastic worms, and creature baits to no avail.

We then decided to try the shoreline at the cove north of the dam.  As we chunked soft plastics at the reeds, I heard a splash out in the cove.  I turned to the sound’s source and saw three more splashes in short order, and they didn’t look like carp.

I put my trolling motor on high and went in the direction of the splashes.  But when we arrived, splashes further into the cove greeted us.  As we got closer to those splashes, there was a sudden commotion about 50 yards to the right of my boat – it was schooling largemouth bass, at least a half dozen of them!

The bass didn’t stay up top for more than a couple of seconds.  Despite that, we ran over to where they were.  I threw an Xcalibur Xr50 lipless crankbait, and Rex threw his Whopper Plopper, both without success.

The next hour was mainly an exercise in frustration.  There would be a splash or two, sometimes within casting range.  We’d make accurate casts, putting our lures right on top of the splashes, with nary a hit.

Playing a hunch we were using too large lures, Rex downsized to a Mann’s Little George (a painted lead weight with a spinner at its back and one treble hook underneath it) and hooked a bass in the next school erupting by my boat.  As Rex brought it to my boat, it vomited out breakfast – several less than two-inch long shad.  It was a nice chunk – about 2 ½ lbs.

Rex’s bass and the size of the shad it had eaten convinced me to switch to the same lure as fast as I could.  The only Little George in my tackle box had a lot of missing paint from running into rocks and trees.  As best I could remember, I hadn’t used that lure in close to 40 years.  I drove my boat towards another series of splashes when suddenly another school erupted on the right side of my boat.  I chunked my Little George at them and this time I hooked up, and soon Rex was taking a picture of me holding my own 2 ½ lb. chunk.

Soon afterward, the splashes subsided, and after another half hour of fruitless casting, we called it a day.

As we were chasing the schoolies, it occurred to me what we were doing was exactly how many people live their lives.  We chase splashes such as:

  • When I become an adult – that will be it!
  • When I get my degree – that will be it!
  • When I get my dream job – that will be it!
  • When I get married – that will be it!
  • When we have the number of kids we want to have – that will be it!
  • When our last kid leaves the nest – that will be it!
  • When we finally retire – that will be it!

“It” is defined as happiness, fulfillment, or living happily ever after.

The only problem is, when we catch what we were hoping to hook at that ripple or splash, we discover we’re still uncontent.  What we thought would make us happy was an illusion – it made us happy for a little while, but before the ripples had disappeared, we were asking ourselves, “Is this all there is?”

So, we regroup.  We say to ourselves, “I need new goals that, once attained, will guarantee my happiness.”  We throw ourselves at another ripple or splash.  Sometimes we connect; most of the time, we don’t.  We pull what we think will be a trophy into our boat and discover it’s not even legal length.

To our chagrin, we spend our lives chasing life’s ripples and splashes.  We catch a few, but mostly we see our line break or our knots unravel.  We don’t hook most of the goals we set out to catch when we wanted to catch them, and when we do, we’re usually disappointed.

That’s because we haven’t acknowledged one of life’s cruel truths – the emotion called happiness depends on something good happening.  We marry the homecoming queen, have kids, get our dream job, finally get to retire, and we’re happy for a while, but usually not for long.

That’s due to thinking happiness is synonymous with one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit – joy.  Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT) says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Just as we can have peace in a storm, we can be joyful when things aren’t going well because joy flows from our relationship with Jesus.  We’re in a state of joy because of what he’s done, is actively doing, and will do for us.  The world didn’t give joy to us, and the world can’t take it away.

Jesus said in John 10:10 (NASB), “‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’”  He didn’t say, “You will have abundant life one day.”  No, his promise was for us to have abundant life right now.  At least two translations use the words “to the full,” and The New Living Translation uses “rich and satisfying” instead of “abundantly.”  Jesus wants our lives to be rich, satisfying, and full – not frustrating and disappointing.

Unconditional joy is not dependent on good happenings.  It’s the natural result of having a personal relationship with the one who created and defined joy.  It is contentment, gratitude, and optimism that result from loving and serving others and God.  Joy is preceded only by love, among the fruits of the spirit.  When God’s love fills us, it produces joy.

Jesus said in John 15:9-11, “‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’”

Jesus didn’t say we’d automatically receive the abundant life and his joy when we become his children.  Living abundantly and full of his joy are choices.  We must choose to receive them every day by confessing our sins and renewing our minds.

We can’t live a joyful life with unconfessed sin.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  And Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  By confessing our sins and renewing our minds, we can experience joy.

Christians should radiate joy.  We’re urged to rejoice in several passages.  Philippians 4:4 emphatically says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Instead of madly running from one ripple or splash to the next, trying to find a wall hanger that’ll make you happy, slow down.  Relish the moments God has given you and live your life according to Psalm 118:24 (NASB), “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”



Schooling shad and bass

More schooling shad and bass

Categories : Devotionals

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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.