Devotionals

Break Off and Retie?

Anyone who does any amount of fishing frequently has to decide whether to untangle or simply break off and retie the snarled fishing line. Instinctively he or she begins to untangle it in hopes of saving it and avoiding the hassle of threading it through the eyelets of the rod and retying the line to the hook and possibly adding a weight, bobber or some other paraphernalia.

This dilemma becomes particularly consternating during cold weather, which produces cold, brittle fingers. If the line cannot be untangled in a matter of moments the wise fisherman (what other kind is there?) usually resorts to breaking off and retying the line. Fishing has a reputation for being relaxing; but there is nothing quite as unnerving as watching other people catching fish while you are unraveling line.

On the way home from one of my favorite fishing holes, it dawned on me that relationships are often like fine fishing line, they easily become tangled through misunderstanding, unstated expectations and inappropriate reactions. Once tangled two people may wrestle with what happened, "Who did what? How? Why? And when? Great energy and time can be put into unraveling the matter with very exhausting results as opportunities for ministry go swimming by. After attempting to resolve a conflict unsuccessfully, it would seem expedient that the people entangled agree to break off and retie; agree to end the paralysis of analysis and retie their relationship with a fresh knot. This approach is appropriate for most any relationship: marriage, family, friendship, church, work, etc., and is consistent with the marks of true followers of Jesus Christ; love (John 17:35) and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32). If your line of relationships tends to be constantly tangling then a more serious search for causes is in order. Each of us must occasionally do some soul searching and avail ourselves to the probing questions of loving friends. You might ask, "Why go fishing in the first place?" Fishing is optional as a form of recreation. Fishing is nonnegotiable for obedient followers of Jesus Christ, "Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17 NASB). Keep your relationships in good order. If that means breaking off and retying, do so quickly; for time to catch fish is at a premium. Without good fishing line a person is left with "spear techniques," which are illegal at the lakes and unworthy of the Kingdom of God.

First printed in The Sun Newspaper – July 1998