Thwarted! by Randy Rowley 8/1/18 ©


With considerable anticipation, my brother-in-law Roy Brigman and I boarded Captain Dannie Golden’s boat on Lake Ray Roberts on a Saturday in mid-August for a morning of bass fishing.  Dannie is the owner of Get Bit Guide Service and has a great reputation.  We were booked to fish with Dannie in early March for a half-day but postponed our trip due to a high chance of thunderstorms.  Two days before our scheduled March trip, one of Dannie’s clients caught a 15.18 lb. bass, setting a new lake record.  As the spawn was long past, Roy and I knew that we probably wouldn’t catch bass anywhere near that large, but we were hoping to catch some keepers and a decent-sized one or two.

Dannie took us over the northeast side of the lake.  We started to see trees in the water, but Dannie didn’t slow down, as he was following his usual trail on his fishfinder’s GPS until he got to a large point.  He turned off the motor, handed me a baitcaster rigged with a Yellow Magic popper, and handed Roy a baitcaster rigged with a spinnerbait.

He then headed towards the bank, using his trolling motor.  As we neared the bank, we heard what sounded like bunches of little splashes.  Then we saw what was making the commotion – a gigantic school of shad was feeding along the bank.  The school was easily 100 yards long and 30 yards wide.

When we got within casting range, I threw the popper towards the bank, but instead of it landing softly among the shad, it stopped in mid-air.  I knew that could only mean one thing – a backlash.  Looking down confirmed by presumption and also revealed that the line had broken.  Dannie retrieved the popper while I worked the backlash out and retreaded the line through the rod’s eyelets.  I then re-tied the popper and resumed fishing.

We stayed by the school for about 15 minutes, but either the bass weren’t there, or our lures didn’t fool them.  The former theory is most likely, as there were no blowups on any of the shad.  Our best efforts were thwarted.  With neither of us getting a hit, Dannie decided to try another spot.

Roy ended the morning with four largemouth and one sand bass, I caught a largemouth and a spotted bass, and Danny caught a few largemouth, including a six pounder.  All of the largemouths were decent sized fish, but what we’ll remember most is what could have been if the bass had been under those shad.  Roy will also remember a huge bass that almost took his crawdad a few feet from the boat.  Dannie and Roy watched it swim away.

The Old Testament prophet Jonah also knew something about being thwarted.  In Jonah 1:2, the Lord commanded Jonah to “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  In Jonah 1:3, we learn how Jonah responded, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.  He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.  After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

In Jonah 1:4 – 3:10, Jonah learned that he could run from the Lord but couldn’t get very far.  The Lord caused a great storm on the sea.  Jonah was thrown overboard by the sailors at his request, as he knew that he had caused the storm.  But he didn’t drown.  Instead he was swallowed by a giant fish!  During his three days and nights in the belly of the fish Jonah repented.  The fish vomited him onto dry land, and Jonah went to Nineveh and preached, and the Ninevites also repented.  God then had compassion and withheld his judgment.

But that’s not the entire story.  Jonah was angry with the Lord for sparing the Ninevites.  Jonah 4:2-3 says, “He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home?  That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  God thwarted Jonah’s desire to see God judge the Ninevites, and Jonah responded with a pity party.

The book ends with the Lord setting Jonah straight, essentially telling Jonah that he had nothing to do with creating the Ninevites and, therefore, it was not he who would decide their fate.  Jonah’s most egregious sin was he judged the Ninevites by his standards, not Gods.

Sometimes we make our convictions as standards rather than holding God’s word as the standard.  Paul addressed this issue in two of his letters.

Romans 14 conveys that some vegetarian believers were judging those that ate meat, and some of those who ate everything were treating the vegetarians with contempt.  Also, some believers considered certain days as holy, and others considered every day the same.  Both groups were judging those who thought differently.

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 8, the issue was some Christians were eating meat sacrificed to idols.  Those who didn’t eat such meat were judging those who did.

The Bible had not addressed those issues, but the Roman and Corinthian Christians decided that they’d judge others who didn’t adhere to their convictions.  Paul’s answers to these debates thwarted what those Christians were trying to do.  They included:

  • “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:13.)
  • “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” (Romans 14:19-20.)
  • “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:8-9.)

When I was in high school, we had a visiting youth minister speak to our youth group.  He thought it was a sin for couples to kiss or even hold hands before they were married.  He was a very persuasive speaker, and several of the couples in the youth group broke up after hearing him speak.  Shortly afterward, our pastor apologized to the congregation for inviting this minister to speak.  He told us that that minister was presenting his standards and not God’s, and we should disregard what that minister told us to do.

In some cases, when we try to promote our convictions as God’s standards, we do so in a desire to help God out.  In other cases, helping God out has nothing to do with it – it’s just simply pride, arrogance, and over-inflated egos that make us think that we’re always right.  Regardless of our motivation, we’re sinning when we use our convictions in areas the Bible didn’t address as standards to judge those who don’t share our beliefs.

James 4:12 says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy.”  Do we think we serve God when we judge people by our convictions?

When we find ourselves thinking judgmentally about others who are not adhering to our convictions, we must judge our pride!  We must humble ourselves before God and repent!

Just like Roy and I were thwarted on that hot summer day when we futilely tried to catch bass in that big school of shad, and Jonah was thwarted in his ungodly judging, God will thwart us when we set our convictions as the standard instead of God’s word.




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