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I spent last weekend in the big piney woods of northern Minnesota fishing and visiting with my brother and my sister-in-law. 


The very first fish I caught was a rather large dogfish. The correct name (according to the MN DNR) is “bowfin.” Whatever you call them, they are not a desirable species at all. No one I know intentionally fishes for them and I have never, ever heard of anyone eating one. They do put up a respectable battle on the end of the line, but they earned their name because they will snap at you and try to bite you when you attempt to unhook them. They are persona non grata in the fish world.


Despite starting out with a dogfish, it was a fabulous weekend. The weather was excellent, the fishing was excellent, and the fellowship was excellent. 


And, in the spirit of honest confession, I must tell you I prayed for exactly those things.


I specifically asked God for excellent weather, excellent fishing, and excellent fellowship. I got all those things plus love and great food. My brother even invited me to participate in his new hobby of hatchet-throwing. (“Of course I’d like to try throwing some hatchets. Why would I not want to do that?”)


As I was making those prayers in preparation for the weekend, it didn’t feel like I was being selfish or greedy, but on the four-hour drive home I began to wonder why God would so abundantly and beautifully grant a prayer that was (to be honest about it) pretty much all about me.


Yes, I had asked that I would be a light and blessing to my brother and sister-in-law, but the weather and the fishing thing was all about my desires.


And I am absolutely sure that my prayer was not granted because I am more holy or more devout or in any way what-so-ever any better than anyone else in the world. I know who I am and I am 100% sure the beautiful, glorious, amazing weekend I enjoyed was not the result of any kind of works-based payback for what a wonderful Christian I am.


Before I go on, allow me to zoom back in time over a decade: When I first met Kinship Radio’s Julie Kellen (who has been retired since 2012), she had Psalm 37:4 on her desk:


“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (ESV)


At first, I wondered if this was some Prosperity Gospel verse taken out of context, but at its heart it’s about your soul. When our souls delight in the LORD, the desires of our souls align with the desires of the LORD and the LORD never lacks for what He desires. So, that verse does not mean there is a brand-new Corvette coming your way, it means something better than a brand new Corvette is coming. Personally, I would rather have an abundance of the fruit of the Holy Spirit –love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control– than a loud, flashy, high-maintenance car any day. 


Over the years since I first pondered that verse, I have taken great joy in delighting in the LORD. He is, after all, amazing and glorious and capable of things far better than my human brain is capable of understanding or even conceiving of. (See Ephesians 3:18-21.)


I am also sure that God was not rewarding me for picking up my cross daily and carrying it in a monk-like spirit of asceticism (the rigorous denial of worldly pleasure to please God) –which is yet another form of works-righteousness. 


So, if neither of those things is going on, why was God so good to a guy who has, on numerous occasions and not all of them in the distant past, acted very much like a human dogfish? 


As I listened to the songs on Christian radio as I drove home, I remembered that He loves me. I remembered that I had been adopted into His family as an heir to the Kingdom and if the King loves me, the proper response to gifts from the King is celebration, praise, and gratitude.


And then this quiet little voice in the back of my head said, “What if you treated other people the way I have just treated you?”


Now there’s a bone for a dogfish to chew on.



Today’s Praise 

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”



(Photo by author’s anonymous brother. )





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