Fist or Cut Bait?

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 ESV)

There is a very old saying that you may have heard before: Are you going to fish or cut bait? It is typically used when someone needs to be encouraged to take action.  The following joke is very old, but bears repeating for emphasis this morning:

Old Pete had a knack for catching fish. Every weekend Old Pete went fishing and returned with dozens of fish. Nobody knew how he did it. When other fisherman were unable to land more than three or four, Old Pete always came back with stringer after stringer of freshly caught fish. Curious, the fish and game warden decided to investigate. He followed Old Pete out to the lake, and when he launched his boat at the dock, the warden asked if he could ride along and observe. "Sure," said Old Pete. "Hop in." Old Pete started up his outboard motor. When they arrived at an obscure reach of the lake, Pete stopped the boat. The warden sat back and watched. Reaching into a box, Pete pulled out a stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed it into the water. After the explosion dead fish soon started rising to the surface. Old Pete took out a net and started scooping them up. "Wait a minute!" said the warden. "What do you think you’re doing? You can’t do that! I’ll put you in jail, buddy! You’ll be paying every fine in the book! You’ll never fish again!" Old Pete calmly put down his net, picked up a second stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed it in the warden’s lap. "So are you gonna sit there criticizing me all day," he asked the panicked warden, "or are you gonna fish?"

The fish and game warden was quickly transformed from passive observer to, shall we say, enthusiastic participant. It is always important to think before making decisions.  However, some people make the “getting ready” part of a decision a life-long event and forget that reaching a goal demands action. Life really is a participatory sport!

Often when we fail to make decisions, the moment passes us by. This is the clear principle Jesus taught in our reading this morning. The young man who wanted to go home and bury his father sounds as if he is making a reasonable request, until you realize that his real intent is to go home until he can legitimately receive his inheritance. It is tantamount to “looking back.”  This New Year determine to do more than just “cut bait.”  Do some fishing! Plan well, but take action in your life! See if good things don’t immediately follow!