Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bite of a Ribbon Fish

Today I had the privelege of fishing with about 150 Junior High Students from Second Baptist Houston on an excursion during our JHigh Beach Retreat in South Padre Island, Texas. I was on one of four chartered boats and I just so happened to get on the boat that didn't catch hardly any fish at all. The first fish that was caught was an electric eel and it went downhill from there. Although we didn't catch a lot of fish, we did catch one fish that I will remember for a while.

The girl next to me screamed, "I've got one" as she continued to reel in quickly. The deckhand, Brian, rushed over to the young lady and explained that he would be taking the fish off for her. When this particular fish came out of the water I noticed that it was very odd looking. I had never seen another fish like this one. It was about eighteen inches long and it was very narrow. The colors were amazing, it was a very pretty fish... cute almost. The fish looked completely harmless, but for some reason, when Brian saw what was on the hook, a look of panic came across his face. With a herd of 7th and 8th graders watching, Brian yelled, "Step away!" and then continued to take the poll away from the girl. With one swift movement, Brian snatched the fish with his left hand, grabbing it right behind the head and then with his right hand, he grabbed his knife. Without hesitation, he took the fish, cut it's head off and proceeded to throw the body of the fish far into the ocean...

Perplexed, I looked at this deckhand with an expression of curiosity and concern and asked him, "What was that all about?" The deckhand looked at me and explained something that I'll remember for a while. He said, "That was a Ribbon Fish... and Ribbon Fish look pretty and colorful and harmless. They look like a fish that you could play with... but they are very deceptive." He went on to say, "This fish has some of the sharpest teeth in all of the ocean and if you get too close, their teeth will slice through you like razor blades." I now understood why he was so quick to decaptiate the fish and separate it's head from it's body.

As Brian described the dangerous bite of this little, innocent looking, cute thing they call the Ribbon Fish, I was reminded of the scriptures when describing the bite of the serpent. The Bible warns us of the temptress called Satan and explains the fact that he will dress up and become something that is appealing, or cute, or unthreatening and then when we are in our most vulnerable state, he bites.

At the conclusion of High School Beach Retreat, I asked our students to raise their hands to indicate whether or not they felt like God had spoken to them in their lives. I asked who had been challenged, who had been convicted, who had been recharged in their walk with Christ, and then I told them that statistically speaking, 90% of them would fall right back into their old habits within 48 hours of being back. I concluded that talk by giving them a warning...

I told them if God was challenging them, Satan would be attacking them. I ended it by saying, "Each one of you have a decision to make. It's like me telling you in five seconds I'm going to hit you in the face... You'll either DUCK or you'll get JACKED in the NOSE!"

That goes for all of us. It's good to remember that there is a snake in the grass that will do anything and everything he can to prevent us from being maximized in our walk with Christ. He will do whatever he can to prevent us from taking strides in our pursuit of God, so whenever you see that cute little harmless thing in your path... walk away.

The teeth are sharp. Don't get bit.

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