What Could Have Been by Randy Rowley 11/14/23 ©


Saturday afternoon started slowly at the FCS fall self-chartered bay fishing trip to Port O’Connor.  After an obligatory nap, three friends and I headed in my bay boat to the outer jetties.  We fished the rock pile at the start of the south jetty, but all we succeeded in hooking there were rocks.  After around 30 minutes, we decided to try the south jetty rock wall.

We went to a spot that we dubbed ‘yellow rope’ as it had a yellow rope lodged in the rocks near the water’s edge.  We proceeded to throw live shrimp, spoons, and Vudu shrimp to no avail.

After around 10 minutes, we decided to troll down to the yellow platform/tower, as it often has fish in the vicinity.  We threw lures as we went.  I sat in my boat’s bow (front) fishing chair, simultaneously throwing a gold spoon, and keeping my trolling motor running parallel with the jetty rock wall.

As I always attempt to do, I threw my spoon as close to the rocks as I could without hitting them, as that gives me the longest retrieve possible.  I made a near-perfect cast, putting my spoon within a couple of inches of the exposed rocks.  I then quickly looked down at my trolling motor’s foot pedal, to better adjust it to the left a little as I was getting too close to the rock wall, while simultaneously starting my spoon’s retrieve.

Almost immediately my spoon came to a sudden stop.  I started to chastise myself for putting my spoon too close to the rock wall and getting stuck.  But suddenly I realized that not only was I free of the rocks, but my spoon was coming back to the boat faster than I could reel!

Whatever had hit my spoon passed the boat and kept on trucking.  I put my trolling motor on spot lock (anchor mode) and tightened my reel’s drag a bit to better fight what I suspected to be a big fish.

But that didn’t slow the fish down one bit.  Line was peeling from my reel like I had it in free spool.  Within a minute I’d lost about three quarters of my line and there was no sign that the fish was slowing down.  I didn’t want to tighten my drag further and possibly have the fish break my 12 lb. test monofilament line.  I also didn’t want it to spool me.

I let my friends know that I was going to chase after the fish.  I took my trolling motor off spot lock, turned it to run mode, and set it to full power.  Within a minute I was no longer losing line and had been able to gain a little bit back.

The fish took a hard left turn and I followed.  It then dove.  I put my trolling motor on spot lock again and tried to get the fish up.  I’d pull it up a little bit and it would dive again.

Just as I thought that I might win the fight, my line released like a drawn-back bow string releasing an arrow!  Whatever it was had either broke or cut my line.

We speculated on what it could have been.  One of my friends thought that it was a black drum, as it ran deep, but I’ve caught big black drum before with 12 lb. test monofilament.  Plus, they don’t usually frequent jetty walls.  I originally thought that it was on a shark, and that eventually one of its teeth touched my line, cutting it, but they don’t usually frequent jetty walls either.  The consensus was a big jack crevalle.  A few years ago, I witnessed Wayne Weilnau catch a big jack crevalle on a topwater lure right at the edge of the jetty rock wall.  Regardless of what it was, I could only add it to my list of fish catches that could have been.

The following morning Wayne also experienced a what could have been moment – he hooked what he thought was either a big jack crevalle or sting ray that spooled him.

Did you know that Moses also experienced what could have been?   He was a former prince of Egypt who had riches and power.  But after learning of his Hebrew heritage, he reacted in anger when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian and murdered the Egyptian.  After Moses’ sin was discovered, Pharaoh exiled him, and Moses spent the next 40 years in the desert.  Then he found a bush that was burning but not being consumed by the fire, and the God of his people introduced himself and informed Moses of his change in vocation – to be the Hebrews’ deliverer from being slaves in Egypt.  Despite many objections, Moses and his brother Aaron became God’s instruments.

Moses went to Pharaoh and demanded that the Hebrews be released.  Pharaoh refused.  Then God sent a plague to Egypt.  This happened nine more times.  After the 10th plague, Pharaoh relented and allowed the Hebrews to leave.

But he changed his mind and the Egyptian army caught up with the Hebrews on the shores of the Red Sea.  There, God used Moses to part the sea while the Hebrews escaped on dry ground that should have been mud, and then to send the sea crashing down onto the pursuing Egyptians.

God entrusted the Law to Moses, he wrote the first five books of the Bible, and was the greatest savior of Israel.  Deuteronomy 34:10-11 says, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land.”

But Moses wasn’t allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labors and enter the Promised Land.  God explained why in Deuteronomy 32:49-52.  He said, “‘Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession.  There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.  This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites.  Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.’”

The Meribah Kadesh incident is recounted in Numbers Chapter 20.  As they neared the end of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness due to disobedience, the Hebrews came to the waterless Desert of Zin.  The Hebrews turned against Moses and Aaron, who went to the tent of meeting and met with God.  God told Moses and Aaron to gather the Hebrews and speak to the rock and water would come forth.  Moses gathered the Hebrews, but in anger said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”  Then Moses struck the rock twice with his staff.  Water came from the rock, as God had promised (see Numbers 20:10–11).  But God immediately told Moses and Aaron that because they failed to trust him enough to honor him as holy, they would not bring the Israelites into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12).

Moses committed two sins.  Most obviously, he disobeyed a direct command from God to speak to the rock.  Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff.  Moses didn’t need to use force; he should have obeyed God, knowing that God would do what he said he would.  But his more egregious sin was proclaimed that Aaron and he would provide the miracle, instead of attributing it to God.  And he did so publicly, asking the people gathered at the rock, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?”  God couldn’t let that go unpunished – not if he wanted the Israelites to trust him and honor him as holy.

Moses’ punishment was steep – he was barred from entering the Promised Land that he had been leading the Hebrews to for 40 years.  Yet he continued to faithfully lead the people, honor God, and didn’t complain about his punishment.  His sin didn’t break his relationship with God, who continued to love him by showing him the Promised Land from a distance before he died (see Deuteronomy 34:4).

The Bible doesn’t tell us that Moses repented, but he must have, as God had Moses to meet Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-9) and his story was recounted in Hebrews Chapter 11 in The Hall of Fame for the Faithful (see Hebrews 11:24-29).

Did Moses wonder what could have been, like I wonder what could have been on my line on that warm fall afternoon?  We’re not told if he did.  But if you find yourself in a similar situation to Moses’ – where you’ve sinned and think that God can no longer use you.  Don’t wonder what could have been – instead, repent and get back in good standing with God.

Wayne Weilnau with his jack crevalle, caught near the jetty rock wall

Roy Zengerle with his 33″ long black drum

Wayne with his 27″ long redfish

Roy with his 27″ long redfish

Binh Chu with his 24″ redfish

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible Verse of the Day

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.