Oct
20

What We Allow In by Randy Rowley 10/20/14 ©

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On a hot day in early June, two friends and I launched my boat on Lake Decker for a morning of bass fishing.  Soon after arriving at the hot water discharge, I caught a 15-inch-long bass on a Rapala Clackin’ Rap lipless crankbait (that runs at variable depth, but usually shallow) in moss back shiner color.

I swung him into my boat with my rod and lipped him (grabbed his lip with my thumb and index finger) with my right hand, which was not my norm, as I usually lip bass with my left hand and use my right hand for lure removal.  I couldn’t unhook him with my left hand, so I reached down and grabbed a pair of pliers and then grasped the hook with the pliers.

Then things went wrong.  The bass shook its head hard, and I lost my grip on him.  As he fell, one of the hooks embedded itself in my right thumb, while another hook caught my right index finger.  The bass dangled from my hand, still shaking his head.  Every shake drove the hooks further into my flesh.  I put the bass on my boat’s sole (floor) and, with considerable effort, freed the lure from his mouth.  I then returned him to the water and went to work on my hand.

I pulled the hook out of my thumb, but the hook in my finger was buried past the barb, and I couldn’t budge it.  I tried to cut it out with my knife, but it was too dull.  I borrowed Burl Fulenwider’s knife and got the same results, and Dustin Rhodes didn’t have one with him for me to borrow.  I then used a pair of ring pliers to remove the hook from the lure, which was not easy to do with my left/off-hand.

Now, all that was sticking out from my finger was the treble hook.  I needed that finger to cast my rod and work my reel, so I was in a quandary.  Rather than not fish for the rest of the morning, I cut the barb close to my finger with a pair of cutting pliers.

That proved to be a big mistake.  I left about ¼” of the hook outside of my finger, figuring it was enough for a doctor to grab with a pair of surgical pliers.  But to my chagrin, I watched the remainder of the hook work its way inside my finger over the next several hours.  My dilemma was finally resolved in a minor ER seven hours after I hooked myself.  The doctor had to cut out what my poor decision had allowed to enter my finger.

A near-universal experience of humanity is we have friends.  Some have a lot of friends, but none are particularly close.  Others don’t have many friends, but the few friends they have are tight-knit.  Most of us fall in between those preferences.

More than just liking and sharing our Facebook posts, friends are people with whom we can share our sorrows, dreams, failures, and victories.  True friends are with us through thick and thin.  They encourage, challenge, and reprimand us when necessary.  We don’t have to tell them our hunting, fishing, and shooting stories, as they were there with us.

Especially we men tend to develop friendships with other men who share the same interests.  Our friends hunt, fish, and shoot with us.  Some even play sports and serve others with us.  For example, FCS was founded in 1988 during a Mouflon and Corsican sheep hunt.  Although we didn’t originally intend to start a club, we had such a great time we decided to form a club focusing on providing similar opportunities.

We men also tend to develop friendships with other men who think the way we do.  We’ve got acquaintances who see the world differently, but we don’t call them the honored title of “friend.”  Friends are for enjoyment – not arguments.

Friends are essential for our spiritual and mental health.  They not only make life more enjoyable but also make it worth living.  But what makes a friend a true friend is how they treat you when your world collapses.  Fairweather friends either shun you or run away, but a true friend gets down in the mud with you and helps pull you out.

We all know (or at least have read stories or heard about) people whose sins became very public.  In most cases, such moral failures didn’t just happen out of the blue but instead took a long time to develop.

What is the primary reason we experience moral failure?  Some say lust for power and riches.  Others say addictions.  But I’m convinced our moral failures usually start with the people we allow into our lives and eventually call friends.  We enable people to gain a foothold in our lives we know should never have been allowed into our lives in the first place.

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Just as Christ-like friends can help sharpen us to become more like Christ, worldly friends can help sharpen us to be more like the ruler of this world – Satan.  2 Peter 3:17 (HCSB) says, “Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability.”  Just as we Christians should desire unbelievers to become Christians, unbelievers desire to take us away from God’s light and become more like them, as we’re no fun when we don’t want to do what they want.

Is becoming friends with people who’re bad influences the only reason a person fails morally?  Of course not.  When we sin, we chose to do so – we wanted to do it and did.

Do people who have upright friends still fall into sin?  Of course.  We all have a natural inclination to sin (i.e., a sin nature) and rebel against God.  All of us have sinned and will continue to do so.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But as we grow as Christians, we will sin less frequently and exchange sin with service.  If we’re growing, sinful things that once appealed to us will eventually become unappealing.

Knowing that, why do we allow the ungodly into our lives, call them our friends, and think we’re immune from their influence?  It’s like wrestling with a skunk and thinking we’ll smell fine.  It doesn’t work.

What starts as a betting pot with our fishing buddies on who will catch the biggest fish during a particular weekend leads to gambling addiction.  What begins as trips with our foursome to a “gentlemen’s club” after a round of golf leads to a marriage-killing affair.  What starts as a few happy hours after work with co-workers turns into alcoholism.  When we run with people who live life on the edge, why are we surprised when we fall off the cliff?

People often fail morally because they have ungodly friends and isolate themselves from godly friends.  People who develop friendships with people who have no business in their lives simultaneously push away Christians who could have spotted the oncoming 18-wheeler and helped them avoid it.

In Mark 2:1-12, Jesus again entered Capernaum and preached God’s word to the people.  Four men came to Jesus, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.  They couldn’t get him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and then lowered the man to Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” and “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  The man got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.  Jesus healed this man because of his friends’ faith – this is why it matters who your friends are.

Just as leaving that fish hook in my finger could have resulted in infection or worse, becoming friends with unbelievers can lead to dire consequences.

The hook that caught Randy

Categories : Devotionals

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