Category Archives: alligators

Taking a Break

The Fishing Hole

Sometimes, when the days are long and the temperatures too hot, my mind checks out and takes a little boat ride out to a special place where the lily pads are as big as golf umbrellas. Here the pressures of life seem to evaporate in the dull glow of the late evening summer sun. There are moments when all of us simply want to disappear to that place where nobody knows our name. I went there today, yet I never left my home.

It all started with a text message from a friend who happened to be out on my mythical body of water in the flesh. He sent me a text message, and in a couple of short sentences painted a welcomed word picture of this amazing solace of solitude. This image he captured in a few words was filled with numbers: seven jugs, twenty white pelicans, and three-eleven foot alligators coupled with a full moon. It doesn’t get any better than this whether you’re dreaming or not. Perhaps it seems a bit cryptic to you, but to me it is better than a 3-D movie with the glasses. If I can’t go in person, at least I dip my toes and drag my fingers in the waters of my imagination.

My ole fishing buddy is slipping across that still body of water headed for the little slew hidden among the lily pads where he can tie off to the remains of a decaying tree top. Over his shoulder, the moon is full and its light ricochets off the black water in a mysterious way that can mesmerize you if you stare at it long enough. Cruising across the water, you realize you are not alone out here. There are some other predators out here with the same thing you have on your mind—big fish! You can hear them as they grunt along the shore line or occasionally you might catch a glimpse of an eleven foot red-eyed gator as it glides effortlessly through the still waters of the lake. One gets your attention, but three tells you to be very, very cautious. There are others out here tonight that want to lay claim to this fishing hole.  No this is not a clip from Swamp People, but this is the best stress reliever you can get for a couple of gallons of gas, a fishing license, and an ice-cold can of Dt. Mtn. Dew. And the best part is it’s not costing me anything but little time.

Perhaps you’re wondering about the pelicans and the jugs. Those big white birds are roosting like Wal-Mart bags snagged in the branches of the cypress trees, while the jugs are rigged with circle 5 hooks and baited with big bream. To quote my buddy, “The bigger the bait the bigger the catfish we’re gonna catch!”

Now—all that’s left is to kick back, get comfortable, and enjoy the croaking of the frogs and the occasional splash of a smaller fish frantically attempting a maneuver to evade a much larger fish hungry for sushi. The hum of an occasional mosquito shatters the silence, but with a wave of a hand that calming hush returns.

I may not be there in person, but I sure enjoyed the journey in my imagination a


great deal. In case you’re wondering, my friend shot me a text this morning to tell me he had just netted a seven pound catfish. Pretty good I thought, but the ones I caught last night in my dreams were far bigger.

Alligators and Clorox Jug Evangelism



Scars from the battle



He will bite us but he cannot defeat us!


A picture paints a thousand words, and the damage to this Clorox jug will serve as a metaphorical picture of the unrequited rage and deep primordial hatred of our ancient foe. Jug fishermen use plastic bottles like this for floats as they put out baited hooks in hopes of catching the big catfish. Once a jug begins to bob up and down or becomes snagged in the labyrinth of the lily pads, it usually signals a hooked fish. The jugs don’t catch fish; they simply carry the bait to the fish and alert the fisherman that he has one on the hook.

This jug was the victim of an alligator attack. It happens on a regular basis. It’s a nuisance, but it really does nothing to deter a jug fisherman, who pulls another one out and ties a hook on it. Occasionally, you lose one, and there’s nothing you can do because alligators are protected by the Federal government. Big deal, there are far more jugs than there are gators.

Who knows what that red-eyed monster was thinking or why it destroyed this jug? Perhaps it went after the big bream we were using as bait and got a surprise when the hook snagged in a tender place. Perhaps it simply hated the presence of the bottle in its bog. Who knows and who cares? The alligator is one enemy a jug fisherman cannot worry about. These reptiles are a part of the eco-system, and thus we are forced to co-exist with them.

Switch gears, but keep the frightening picture of the gator attacking the jug in the back of your mind. Picture the devil and his demonic angels as gators sliding silently through the dark waters of the cosmos seeking souls to devour. Peppered here and there are the fishermen of Christ, working the same dark soup, going after the very same souls. Every soul in that black water will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where—heaven or hell? Look out your office cubicle—your kitchen window—the rear view mirror of your automobile— to the left and right, sitting in the little league bleachers—every person you see will be alive a million years from now in either be in heaven or in hell.

Now back to the jug. In this cosmic struggle for the souls of men, women, boys, and girls it represents you and me. We are not the bait or the hook, we are the simple floats—the vehicles—that God uses to carry the Gospel where the fish (the lost people) are congregating. We carry the message like the jug carries the hook, and the enemy hates us for it. He hates us because he hates our Savior. Get used to it! It’s been this way from the beginning.

From time to time our frustrated enemy erupts in rage or hatred and bites at us for rescuing those he considers his own. Don’t get hung up on the tooth marks or the pain you might incur. Wipe off the blood, reach back in the boat, and get another jug. One day when you stand in heaven, surrounded by the souls you snatched from hell you can tell them your fish tales and show them your scars.

As a jug fisherman might say, “Forget the gators, the fish are tearing it up—hand me another jug!”

Alligators, Apathy, and the Adversary

The sun was setting as we eased the boat back away from the campground on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. The pallor of the sky was a grayish orange and the cool breeze was a brief respite from summer’s oppressive heat. We were headed out to jug fish at a spot among the lily pads where the Pearl River empties into the Reservoir. Jug fishing is an inexpensive way to catch big fish. All you need is an empty milk jug, a hook, some string, a lead weight, and the bait. You drop the baited jugs out, find a nice place to tie off, sit back, enjoy a Coke, and wait for the big fish to come for dinner.

As we were turning to head down the narrow canal toward the open water, we came face to face with a seven foot alligator who had been silently watching us for a long time like we were a couple of rotisserie chickens from the grocery deli. Alligators are common here and protected by law, so most people pay little attention to them. I’m not from here, and so every time I see one, something primal from deep within me starts screaming, “Run for your life!” Since I’ve never walked on water, I chose to be still, stay on the boat, and hide my feelings of terror from my fishing buddy. As silently as the gator came, he submerged and disappeared. No sound—no splash—not even a ripple—vanishing like a phantom into the dark green water.

In that moment of panic, God decided to pull up a chair, make it a teaching moment, and remind me of a spiritual truth. His lesson was not about fear or faith. It was an exercise in alertness. The Father reminded me that we all have an enemy lurking out there, watching us with steely red eyes like that gator. Our adversary is looking for that moment of opportunity where he can seize the advantage to kill, steal, or destroy something God is doing in our lives. He lurks—quietly waiting for someone to devour. He’s always there, even if we don’t see him.

The lesson of the alligator is this: it’s not the adversary, but our apathetic nature that poses our greatest threat. In Christ, we are more than conquerors, but if we allow the caress of apathy to embrace us and forget to be alert, we are in danger of becoming dinner for the devil. Or, if you will allow me to paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8 in the vernacular of a hesitant jug fisherman: “Watch out, be on the alert. Your adversary, that big gator, is seeking someone to devour. Don’t let it be you!”