This was a phrase that I heard this morning in my time with God. He then stated, “How many are swallowing hook, line and sinker the news of panic and fear in this season of pandemic? Are they engulfing too much to cause death to themselves? Can they just nibble on the bait rather than consuming it all? Can they discern what is safe to eat and what can mean death to them?”
When I think of hook, line and sinker, it takes me back to fishing for sunfish off the dock in northern Minnesota.
I delighted in fishing for sunfish as a child. As I had children, we taught them to fish off the dock with worms. As we walked to the dock, we shared in their excitement of wondering who would catch a “big one” or snag the most fish.
Baited hooks and well positioned children cast their lines out into the water with a wiggly worm attached. At times, hooks would be pulled up with no remaining bait on them. They could see the fish, nibbling at the worm, but wouldn’t succeed in hooking the fish. Some fish knew how to eat the worm without be caught.
As bobbers were pulled under, we all were excited to see what pulled out of the water. As our children reeled in the fish after a underwater fight, we would immediately exclaim, “Wow! This is a big one.” Or “Look at how small it is!” We helped them safely bring the line close to take off the fish.
The older ones could generally remove the fish and re-bait the hook. The younger ones usually refused to remove the fish out of fear. As a mother, it was my task to take them off.
Most of the time, the hook was easily removed from the fish’s mouth by just twisting the hook away from the lip. I could easily throw the fish back into the lake or place it in the “keeper” bucket to have for dinner later.
Sometimes, when the fish was brought close, I would groan upon discovering the fish had swallowed the hook, line and sinker. This meant it would be a struggle to detach the fish from the line. I would need to get out a needle nose pliers to remove the hook from deep inside the fish. Sometimes it was so difficult to remove, I would attempt to just pull it out. As I did this, I knew the fish was being internally damaged to the point of dying. If the fish was small, it most certainly meant death to the fish from my perspective. After removing the hook, line and sinker, my child would say, ‘Throw it back in the lake, Mom. Let’s watch it swim away like the others.” I would do so, hoping it would swim like the others that were easily removed. It wouldn’t. It would lay there, sometimes moving a fin, trying to swim. To my relief, my children’s focus would turn back to baiting the hook again. The floating fish slowly moved to shore where we would retrieve it later to be buried in the garden for fertilizer.
As I reflected on my experiences of fish taking the bait too vigorously, I felt the Lord say, “Be careful not to take the bait too deeply in this time of pandemic. It may mean the death to peace and faith. Yes, it is okay to nibble, but choose carefully what you eat.”
For me this is a great reminder. Asking God for His wisdom and claiming His safety (Psalm 91) will keep us from swallowing all the fear with which society baits us. We want to be able to swim away secure in His love and protection.