Jun
09

Persistence by Randy Rowley 6/9/17 ©

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On a crisp and clear Saturday in early May, my son, Ryan, my grandson, Hunter, and I launched at Mansfield Dam on Lake Travis and headed to Commodore’s Point Cove on the northwest side of the boat launch.  We arrived at the northward point, and I shut my boat off and engaged the trolling motor.

Around my 15th cast, I hooked a bass with my Whopper Plopper (a hard topwater propeller bait) and quickly brought him to my boat.  He didn’t put up much of a fight, as he was only around 12 inches long.  Then, after around 15 casts with no hits, I switched to a squarebill crankbait.  I tried slow, medium, fast, and stop and go retrieves, to no avail.  I also tried a lipless crankbait, a spinnerbait, a deep-diving crankbait, a jointed swimbait, a Roadrunner (a small jig with a blade on it and usually a grub), a creature bait, and a worm.  All generated the same amount on non-interest.

Ryan tried a topwater popper, lipless and squarebill crankbaits, a swimbait, and a fluke, all to no avail.  Hunter tried to catch perch.

As we got to the end of the cove, we discovered the lack of interest wasn’t due to a lack of bass.  We saw several bass suspended in the ultra-clear water.  All of them were around 12 inches long (the lake is full of bass that size).  They showed no interest in pursuing anything.  We also saw several perch, many of whom swam within six inches of some of the bass, who showed no interest in making them their next meal.

At the very back of the cove, Ryan spotted a suspended bass right above the bottom.  He tried slowly cranking a jointed swimbait right in front of its mouth.  The bass showed no interest.  Ryan tried three more times, with still no results.  On the fifth try, the bass bumped the lure with its mouth.  It was as if it had kissed it.  The sixth try proved to be the charm.  The bass took the lure, and the fight was on, although it proved to be short-lived.  The bass jumped and shook its head twice.  On the second head shake, it threw the lure.  Unfortunately, that short fight was the last excitement of the morning.

Some fishermen are content to fish for hours without nary a nibble.  They’re happy just being out in God’s creation and away from work, chores, and other responsibilities.  Although I enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, I also like to catch fish while fishing.  I’ll try every technique and presentation I know and various colors and sizes of lures, but after several hours of being skunked or catching low numbers, I’ll call it a day and head home.

But there are times when I’m having a slow day, and suddenly the bite turns on, and I catch bass like crazy.  Or I catch only a couple of bass, but they were big.  Such occurrences are why I’m reluctant to give up quickly – I never know what the next cast might bring.

As Ryan and I made cast after unproductive cast, I thought about how, in many ways, sharing the good news of redemption of sin through Christ to unbelievers can be a lot like trying to catch finicky bass.  You might throw everything in your good news tackle box at unbelievers, who might not take any of the baits.  You might talk to them about the joy and peace knowing the Lord brings, living an abundant life, the assurance of our heavenly home, the relief of no longer being a slave to sin, and present many more bright and shiny things.  And like those bass on that cool Saturday morning, you might get hardly a nudge.

The book of 1 Kings recounts the aftermath of the Prophet Elijah proving to the Israelites that the Lord is God by humiliating and killing 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah.  1 Kings 19:1-2 says, “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’”

Queen Jezebel’s threat caused Elijah to flee.  In 1 Kings 19:4-9, Elijah came to a juniper tree and prayed that he might die – a very human response from a hero of the faith.  Many scholars regard Elijah as the boldest and greatest Old Testament prophet.  Elijah was a king breaker and a staunch opponent of Baal worship.  God did 16 miracles through him in the face of danger and hardship.  And Elijah had just won his greatest triumph – proving God was real to the Israelites by killing 850 of the enemies of God.  And now he was running for his life and praying for God to kill him!  Talk about going from the mountaintop to the valley!

Elijah then decided to do something sensible – he took a nap.  Then an angel of the Lord awakened Elijah and encouraged him to eat.  Elijah got up, ate, and drank.  Having been strengthened, he traveled for forty days until he reached Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, where he found a cave and spent the night.

Then God asked Elijah why he was there.  Elijah replied in 1 Kings 19:10.  It says, “He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.  I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’”  In addition to thinking he was the last prophet, Elijah thought he wasn’t making a difference and his work had been in vain.

God then revealed to Elijah he wasn’t the only one entrusted to carry out his will.  God said in 1 kings 19:18, “‘Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.’”  God then gave Elijah three final tasks, which he carried out faithfully.

Elijah persisted instead of succumbing to despair.  God rewarded him by ascension – taking him to heaven while still alive (without dying first).  2 Kings 2:11-12a says, “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father!  The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”  And Elisha saw him no more.”

Even when we feel like we’re not planting seeds or making a difference in the lives of unbelievers, we can find encouragement in knowing God’s will has never changed – he wants everyone to repent and accept him as their Savior and Lord.  1 Timothy 2:1-4 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

So when you’re casting the lures of good news to unbelievers, don’t think you’re the only one casting and persist and keep on casting if you don’t get bites – you never know what your next cast might bring.

Categories : Devotionals

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Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

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