Wednesday, February 24, 2016

To have, to hold or!?

As I read  Matthew 13 recently, Jesus explained the parable of the weeds analogy in the passage  If the weeds share the same space as the desired crop, it would be nearly impossible to root out one and leave the other to grow once either or both were a significant size.....thus the land owner told the servants to wait --- allow them to grow together and then sort the weeds out at harvest time. We have often heard Jesus' story of planting seeds in a variety of soils and for the most part understand the symbolism there.  In the previous post, I discussed the mustard seed and the yeast: although tiny, they make a HUGE difference.  Moving on, I had read multiple times the parable of the net in Matthew; but never have fished or any desire to go fishing, I did not "get" the significance of the story.   In Matthew 13:47-50, Jesus stated about the kingdom of heaven:

47“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let me say for the gazillionth time, I do not have one problem saying: I am NOT a theologian, nor a fisherman nor a philosopher. I am a professional question asker, though (One of my husband's nicknames for me is "Madame Prosecutor"). I have two friends who thoroughly enjoying fishing whom I questioned and am deeply grateful for their input. Prior to the discussion, I assumed that all fish caught were usable: once caught, it was merely a process of being "graded" by size and the smallest ones were thrown back into the water because they were too small to be of use. Steve and Brent corroborated testimony that there are target fish anytime one decides to go fishing. While you may hope to bring in a certain species, inevitably others will be caught; some are worth saving and others, less desireable are not. Regardless, those who fish cast their line or net. They dream big of being able to land lots of large fish -- to recount an even bigger story!

I learned is that while attempting to catch target eatable fish, You WILL catch "trash fish". These specimens will damage your equipment and potentially even those the person who is fishing. Some species are mean; they may even have a multitude of slicing, sharp teeth or spiny, poinsonous fins that will slash your hands as you attempt to free them. When casting a net, the fishermen in the aforementioned scripture passage had no control over what came up with the net. When they pulled up the bounty, inevitably they would sort through the catch to keep the ones they wanted and throw back some; but they would throw away the bad fish.

Throughout my life---and possibly yours---there are persons that have crossed my path (or floated into my net) that have been mean. They may even slice with sharp words or spiny comments and yes, even poisonous, toxic actions. When you attempt to cut them free them from your net, sometimes they do even more damage and embed themselves further. One relationship in particular is a painful memory: this person had nothing good to say--EVER-- about anyone or anything. We had recently moved to the community and in my loneliness of attempting to build new friendships, this person bit the line I cast. In fact, in hindsight, they all but jumped into my boat uninvited. It did not take long before I realized that if their words of gossip and questionable actions were not good while with me, behind my back they were gossiping about me and not acting honorably. I did not realize intially how this toxic friendship was knicking away at my time with God, my family and other relationships. Yes, it left scars, but by God's grace, I removed my hands and my heart before I got totally sucked in. I had to refocus on catching the target that I desperately needed: loving people who are hungry for God. Sometimes those who fish are blessed and catch what they want quickly. Other times they go home with nothing, only having caught maybe a bit of refuse or catching plant life growing....

So it is with our desire to mature and build healthy relationships: just as good fish drawn in by the net can nourish our physical body, our spirits are nourished by mature, Christ-like people. God indeed uses what we "catch" to teach us; yes, there are still plenty of harmful, trash fish wherever there is enough water for them to thrive. If not pulled out, some of these "fish" will consume the entire population of healthy, native ones-- if they are not stopped, BUT we must continue to fish. Don't let the poisonous, spiny, harmful ones stop you. To collect the good, you must continue to cast your net.

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