Don’t Let Go of the Rope

April 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 5 Comments
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Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Hebrews 2:1

My father was a great fisherman. He loved to fish, and he almost always caught a bunch (what he called “a mess”) of fish. Except when he took me along. I don’t really believe in “luck,” but, if I did, then I would say that I certainly had bad luck when it came to fishing. This may have been a contributing factor to the misery that usually accompanied these trips. On top of the lack of action, though, the real problem was the stress factor. To my dad, fishing was intense. The boat ride, the scenery, the weather, whether or not we had a snack, were completely irrelevant. A fish can’t be caught unless your hook is in the water, and there was no time to pause and reflect. Perfect casts, precise reeling speed, and impeccable hook-setting techniques were the only acceptable maneuvers, and the old man was good. He could silently drop his lure over a stump 25 feet from the boat, entice a strike, reel in a five-pound largemouth bass in ten seconds flat, remove the hook, deposit him in the ice chest, and be casting again without wiping his brow or pausing for a breath. Not me, though. Tangled lines, snagged hooks, loud-splashing, fish-spooking plops several feet from the targeted brush pile were the order of the day for me. I honestly don’t know, to this day, why he took me along. Neither of us ever had fun, and 99% of the time the trip ended in a fight.

My grandfather was a different story. When he took me fishing we always had a grand time. He liked to fish with live bait, so that even a fishing-klutz like me could watch a cork sink, and pull in a decent catch. Plus, he always seemed to know where the fish were spawning or bunched together, so we wouldn’t spend half the day casting around random stumps, brush piles, and low-hanging branches. When it was time to eat, we would stop fishing and enjoy delicious sandwiches, snacks, and icy Cokes out of glass bottles. He was patient and good-natured, quick to help me with the hook, bait, and line. Even on the occasions when we didn’t catch anything, he was in a good mood and the trip was enjoyable – with two exceptions. Once was when he let me drive his new bass boat – a story I’ll save for another day. And once when, instead of going to the lake, we went to Dorcheat Bayou.

If you’re not from the South or if you’re unfamiliar with the term “bayou,” it’s just another word for a fairly narrow river, typically with a slower current, usually found in swampy areas.

I was probably about eight years old, and, on this particular day, my grandfather backed his trailer down the launch ramp, handed me the rope tied to the boat, let the boat float free from the trailer, then drove back up the ramp to find a place to park. My instructions were clear: Stand on the dock next to the ramp and HOLD. ON. TO. THE. ROPE.

The boat floated downstream and quickly used up all the slack in the rope, but the current wasn’t so swift that it was hard to hold on. In fact, it was a piece of cake. Pretty soon my grandfather would return on foot, pull the boat in close to the dock, and hold it steady so we could climb in and take off. The only problem was my level of focus. There were some loose pebbles on the dock. Could I skip one across the water? I’ll just put the rope down on the dock and hold it in place with my foot, so I can have both hands free. Is that a bird in that tree? Could I scare him off by throwing a rock at him? What about that cloud? It looks like an Indian shooting a bow-and-arrow. I’ll just wander over to the edge and look down into the water for a second… Here comes PawPaw. Why is he running and gesturing?

You guessed it. Turning around, I saw my grandfather’s (no doubt expensive) bass boat floating away in the distance. What does all this have to do with Hebrews 2:1? I had let my attention, and the tow rope, “slip.” As a child I thought the boat would be lost forever. (It wasn’t. Thankfully, another fisherman downstream saw it, and was kind enough to tow it back.) I’m old now. Both my father and grandfather have passed into eternity. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that, spiritually speaking, the salvation which God has given me in Christ can never “slip away.” It is secure, but the danger in letting sound Bible doctrine slip away is that a loose, unpiloted boat can be damaged if it runs aground or hits an obstacle, and other boats with which it might collide can be damaged, too. A Christian believer who has slipped out of his moorings is in danger. He still belongs to God, but he can be damaged, hurt, and he can crash into others, causing more damage.

We must not lose our focus and neglect our Christian responsibilities, even when they may seem at times as uneventful and routine as holding onto a rope that only gives off a light resistance. Prayer, Bible study, worship, church attendance are things which must be heeded with renewed focus every day and every week. We do not do these things to get rewards, but we understand that they are vital to our well-being, and to the well-being of others.

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