Amazing Grace Colorado

Set Free—My Chains Are Gone!

A Fishing Expedition

One of several careers, I used to be an Environmental Scientist for CA Fish and Game. I worked mostly with protected species and permitting. Every now and then I had to field calls about hunting and fishing (usually when nobody else was available because I knew very little about the associated regulations). One morning I fielded such a call because, well, I’m pretty sure admin just wanted anybody else to talk to this guy. The gentleman started with stating he just had a few questions to help him plan his next hunting trip - sounded innocent enough. He started with “if I am hunting a muley (mule deer), I shoot one and it runs off, do I have to track that deer or can I just go find another one to shoot?” Fortunately, one can not see eye-rolling over the telephone. I respond that yes, ethically, it is the hunter’s responsibility to make every effort to find the animal he has wounded. The phone line was quiet for a few seconds. He went on to say “Okay, okay. Well, how about if I am hunting, I shoot a deer and it runs into an impenetrable thicket of poison oak. Do I have to go in after it or can I just go shoot another deer?” After another eye-roll and a glare towards admin, I calmly answer that if the deer went into the thicket, it really isn’t impenetrable.

After a few more hare-brained scenarios involving deer throwing themselves off cliffs and wolves (of which there were none in our region) and receiving similar answers, the hunter switched scenarios. “Well, what if I kill a deer but it is late in the afternoon and I am deep in the woods. I decide to hang my deer, hike out, and come back in the morning. When I get back to the deer it has been half eaten by a mountain lion. Can I go hunt another deer?” By now I was ready to ask if he would just like me to find a 7-point buck and tie it to the back of his pickup so he could just shoot it and it could fall into his truck. However, I was afraid he would take it as a serious offer. I was also ready to take is hunting license number and just hand it over to the wardens so they could get a head start on the paper work - or better yet just revoke it. Instead, I calmly answered that he better come prepared to spend a night in the woods to protect his kill.

He next went on to quail hunting. He started with the scenario “if I go quail hunting and the bag limit is 10 quail, I shoot into a covey of quail and kill 11 quail with one shot, am I over my bag limit?” After a deep sigh and a little tongue chewing to keep from blurting out the snide remarks such as ‘dream on’ that were floating around in my head, I replied that yes, indeed, he would have exceeded the bag limit. From quail hunting we moved to fishing. Just use your imagination for litany of ridiculous scenarios he went through before the 45 minute call ended. I actually received many similar calls except mine were usually related to protected species and permits. We referred to these types of calls as ‘fishing expeditions’. The person was fishing for an answer he liked and would just keep trying to get it to justify questionable behavior.

My question is how often do we go on ‘fishing expeditions’ with God - whether our goal is to get out of something we know He wants us to do, to find an easier way, or to see how close we can get to sin without actually sinning? Probably more often than we would like to admit. We are especially prone to the later - asking how close to sin can I get without actually sinning. One of the most meaningful concepts I heard from a Christian speaker early in my Christian walk is that we, as Christians, need to reframe our thoughts. We should not be asking how close to sin can we get without actually sinning, but how far from sin can we get? When we find ourselves on a ‘fishing expedition’ with God, it may be a good moment to stop and evaluate our motives.

Don't make God's eyes roll!