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!”
In the natural world catfish are the fresh-water rulers of the dark depths near the bottom—tough skinned and insatiable in their foraging for food. They eat whatever they find, wherever they find it, with little or no investigation or concern. They see it, they swim over to it, and if they can catch it, they swallow it. Over time, like us, they grow fat off the garbage they ingest.
The secret to successful jug fishing is really no secret at all. Take a #5 circle hook and cover it with something that smells really bad or looks really good. I prefer the latter and a live hand-sized bream is almost too much for a big ole catfish. You suspend that delectable piece of squirming sushi in the water and look out—it will be an evening of fun as you sit back and anticipate those golden brown filets melting in your mouth.
We are a lot more like catfish than most of us would like to think. Living in the dim shadows near the bottom, we tend to grow fat off the debris of worthless teachings and the decaying scraps of sermonic cadavers instead of swimming up near the top where the water is warm and the food is fresh, and our ancient enemy is fully aware of these tendencies.
He knows our feeding habits and how easy it is to confuse us. He cleverly baits his hooks with forbidden morsels that seem to dance in the dim water we are used to swimming in. The bait is not the issue; it’s the exploitation of the fish’s hunger that lands it on the hook and on the stringer. And so it is with us; we can blame the devil and his tackle box filled with an alluring assortment of baits, but the real culprit is the lust that resides deep within each of us.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and entrapped by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15). The bait simply excites the lust, and in the accompanying confusion of our feeding frenzy, the barbed hook finds its mark, or as we might say in the mother tongue of a jug fisherman—“Fifty pounds of catfish ain’t a bad night for ten empty milk jugs, some #5 circle hooks, and seven or eight scrawny bream. Grab the filet knife—heat up the oil—we got fish to fry!”