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.  “Champ” had a 1996 150 HP Mercury 2-stroke fuel injected outboard motor, two live wells, 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 hunting and fishing boat that I 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 that I named “Bob.”  I added a 40# thrust Minn Kota foot-controlled trolling motor, a Lowrance Elite-4 HDI fish finder, a battery for the trolling motor and fishfinder, an ice chest with an aerator as a livewell, and a camo blind.

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 catch him and blow him around when using the trolling motor, making it hard to keep on a straight line on windy days.

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

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

Then two days later, I received a call from my wife that someone had taped a yellow “Boat Notice” sticker to 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 wasn’t an issue with Bob, who was small enough to fit in my garage barely.  But Champ was two feet too long and half a foot too wide for my garage, so I had to park him on my driveway.

Immediately I went from sustained joy to terrible anger.  My “Come and Take It” and “Don’t Tread on Me” tendencies came out in full force.  I immediately wrote a letter in my head to the Neighborhood Nazis Association, although I toned down my rhetoric a little bit when I put my fingers on my keyboard a few hours later.  Still, burning anger lingered for quite a while.

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

The Book of Exodus tells the story 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.)

Many years later, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “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.” (Isaiah 44:9.)

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, deer hunting show hosts, and even favorite reality TV show hosts like the Robertson’s.

There is nothing wrong with maintaining your 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 begin to become idolatry when an object’s or person’s value starts to become more valuable than the value that we put on our Heavenly Father.

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 the sportsman needs what he’s buying or if he can afford it.  The issue is his desire always to have something new – and this desire becomes the itch that he must constantly scratch.

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

  • Is my high regard for an object or person hurting my relationship with my family and friends?
  • Has this object or person become more important than my relationship with God?
  • Am I no longer serving others?
  • Am I no longer striving to follow Jesus’ words to “Love your neighbor as yourself?” (Mark 12:28-31 says, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.’”)

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it’s time to lower your toys and heroes from their pedestals and to elevate Jesus to his rightful place – as the Lord of our lives.  If you determined that 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 – run from it!  And if that means having to sell a thing or two or stop watching some personalities to escape idolatry because you’re unable to flee from it, then as Jesus said to Judas, “‘What you do, do quickly.’” (John 13:27b.)


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