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On Labor Day weekend, I took a little time to wet a hook in the Warrior River and try my skill at fishing. As I mentioned, fishing relaxes me and when I catch something it’s just icing on the cake.

I baited my hook and tossed it in the water. It barely had time to sink and under my cork went. After a short fight I landed a two pound catfish. Carefully, I reached down to grab the fish just in front of his top fin and his two side fins. Nothing hurts more and ruins a good day of fishing than a catfish fin in the hand. You can’t really blame the catfish, but just the same a little care keeps you from the painful skewering of a fish fin.

Now once I put the grip on the fish, I proceeded to the removal of the hook for its mouth. It was a little difficult due to the catfish’s lip being so tough. I worked the hook back and forth carefully to remove the hook because I am into catch and release. If you catch and release you don’t have to clean fish. I didn’t realize that in my exuberance to get the hook out with my right hand, I was squeezing the catfish with my left one. If you squeeze a catfish too hard it will…how can I say this—poop on you. I know you were probably not expecting me to say that—with most of my blogs being spiritual and all that, but it is what it is!

I was unaware of what had happened until I pitched the catfish back into the river. And then to my horror I saw the catfish poop on my shorts and worst of all, on my favorite tee-shirt—the faded, soft tangerine colored Key West one. There I stood on the pier with dark colored fish stuff dripping down my shirt and shorts.

What did you do—you might be wondering? What every fisherman would do, I scooped up a handful of river water and washed the fish fecal material off my clothes and proceeded to bait the hook for another cast. Heck…the catfish are biting!

Later the next day when I returned home, I squirted some stain remover on my tee shirt and washed it. When I took it out the stain was still there. I did the same thing again with the same result. So, I went to the next level and saturated it with a Clorox concoction my wife makes up and let it sit for several days. At this point I’m not sure the fish poop stain will ever come out, but my fingers are crossed.

I have learned a lesson—not about fishing but about life. When you get squeezed hard enough—when the pressure is on—something is bound to come out. Whatever is on the inside will always ooze out. We may pretend to be this or that, but when pressed hard enough by a situation of circumstance—who we really are comes to the forefront. We may try to hide it but it will eventually surface.

That’s why God is conforming us into the image of Christ from the inside out. He’s pressing us into the mold of Jesus Christ (that’s what conform means), and everything that’s not like Christ gets squeezed out. It squirts everywhere and often it is embarrassing because we were unaware of the mess still hiding within our hearts. Hopefully at some point, when the pressure is on, Christ will gush out and the conforming process will be complete.

But until that day dawns, be prepared to clean up the mess. Like that fish poop, a harsh word, an angry reaction, or a bad attitude can leave stains on those around us that are extremely hard to remove regardless of how diligent you are or how much time passes. Hopefully the next time you find yourself in a squeeze, you will remember this little fish poop story and be careful with your aim.