Scratching Itches by Randy Rowley 8/15/14 ©


On the evening of August the 13th, I finally became the owner of a genuine bass boat – a 1989 18’ 4’’ Champion 184 side-console fiberglass bass boat (old style fish and ski), with a 1996 Mercury 150 HP 2-stroke fuel injected outboard motor, two livewells, two fish finders, and a built-in ice chest.  “Champ” ran on Lake Georgetown at 50 MPH that evening, with the seller, my wife, and I onboard during the test drive.

Champ was a considerable improvement over my first fishing boat (which I also used for duck hunting) that I’d bought four years earlier – a 1986 16’ MirroCraft aluminum V Hull boat with a 30 HP Evinrude tiller motor and a hand-painted camo finish.  I added a 40# thrust Minn Kota foot-controlled trolling motor, a Lowrance Elite-4 HDI fish finder, a battery to power the trolling motor and fish finder, an ice chest with an aerator for a livewell, and an easily detachable camo blind to “Bob.”

Bob was a good duck hunting boat but not a good fishing boat.  The tiller motor became very tiresome on long runs, and with a 30 HP motor, just about every run was a long run.  It had three bench seats – two of which I had to crawl over to get to and operate the trolling motor.  Bob sat high out of the water, so the wind would often catch him, blow him around and make it hard to keep straight when using the trolling motor.

I was satisfied with Bob and had no immediate plan to replace him, but the gears on the motor’s lower unit going out on Lake Decker one morning changed that.  I decided it would be better to upgrade to a better boat than spend money on a costly repair.  I had the lower unit replaced with a used one and sold him.

To say I was ecstatic about Champ’s acquisition is an understatement.  I was on Cloud Nine.

Then two days later, my wife called me at work and said someone had taped a ‘Boat Notice’ sticker onto our front door.  It stated, “The status of your property has been reported and is photo documented for inappropriate storage of a boat.  The City of Austin ordinances and the Anderson Mill deed restrictions do not allow for boats to be parked in the front yard, driveway or street.”  (Parking Bob in my garage wasn’t an issue, as he was small enough to fit with the garage door down (barely); however, Champ was two feet too long and half a foot too wide for my garage, so I had to park him in my driveway.)

Immediately I went from sustained joy to terrible anger.  “Come and Take It” and “Don’t Tread on Me” came out of me in full force.  I immediately wrote a steamy letter in my head to my Municipal Utility District (MUD) and Cc’d my Homeowners Association (HOA) for good measure.

However, I did some research and toned down my planned rhetoric a little bit when I got home a few hours later.  What I’d heard from several boat owners was correct – the City of Austin Code of Ordinances allows boat trailers to be kept on most streets for up to 72 hours, while the owner prepares the boat for the lake or does maintenance.  I included that Code reference in my letters to the MUD and HOA.  Finding that Code reference and writing the letters calmed me a bit; however, anger lingered for a while.

(A few days later they both responded – confirming I was correct.  I started parking my boat trailer on the street in front of my house to ready it for the lake.  The MUD deed restrictions enforcer never again put another ‘Boat Notice’ sticker on my door.)

As I cooled down, I asked myself if I was mad because my MUD was overbearing or if their action had revealed a deeper truth – my delight in my new acquisition was becoming idolatry.

Exodus chapter 20 tells the recount of God giving the 10 Commandments to his people.  The Second Commandment is “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Exodus 20:4.)  And Isaiah 44:9 says, “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.  Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.”

Many sportsmen have a favorite rifle and shotgun, a favorite rod & reel combo, a favorite knife, a favorite duck call, favorite bass lures, and even favorite camo clothing.  Many of us also have favorite professional bass fishermen, hunting show hosts, and even favorite reality TV show hosts like the Robertson’s.

There is nothing wrong with maintaining our outdoor gear.  It’s also OK to deeply respect an individual for their accomplishments.  But we get into trouble when we misplace our priorities, and things or people start to become objects of worship.  Respect can become idolatry when an object’s or person’s value becomes more valuable than God’s.

For some sportsmen, idolatry takes the form of buying a new rifle or shotgun before every hunting season or a new rod & reel combo before the start of every spring.  The issue isn’t whether they need what they’re buying or can afford it.  The issue is their desire always to have something new – and that desire becomes the itch they must always scratch.

To determine whether an object or person has become divine in our lives, we must ask ourselves:

  • Has this object or person become more important than my relationship with God?
  • Am I no longer serving God and others?
  • Is my high regard for an object or person hurting my relationships with my family and friends?

If you answered “yes” to the first two questions, it’s time to lower your toys and heroes from their pedestals and elevate Jesus to his rightful place – as your Lord.  The good news is you can renew the relationship by repenting (turning from the direction you were heading and turning to God), confessing your sins to him, and trusting in him again.

And if you’ve determined an object or person has become an idol, the Bible has just one answer – flee.  1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”  Don’t try to stand and fight it or take it on when you feel stronger – run from it!  And escaping idolatry may mean having to sell a thing or two or stop watching some personalities because you cannot flee from your addition to them.

If you’ve never surrendered your life to God, in prayer (talking to God) repent (turn from the direction you were heading and turn to God), confess your sins to God, receive (accept) Jesus as your Savior by asking him to forgive you, and surrender your life to his control.



Categories : Devotionals

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