PLYMOUTH, MI – It was about 6:00am when I stepped out of the back door, quietly closing the screen so as not to disturb my wife and our gracious hosts. I took a long deep breath of the crisp mountain air filling my lungs with pure invigorating energy. The thermometer read 54 degrees and the sun was just beginning to flood the treetops with a soft yellow glow. I slipped into my hip waders, strapped on a tackle belt and basket for my krill and headed for the river. Just a few steps down a very steep but navigable slope waited a pristine ribbon of crystal clear water and an untold number of leviathans of the deep.
As I entered the water I made sure not to disturb the bottom sediment and rocks unnecessarily. I wanted my approach to be as stealthy as possible knowing that my green rubber covered size elevens would already appear to be quite out of the ordinary to the inhabitants of these waters and they needed nothing else to spook them.
Step by careful step I waded up the stream to a large clearing where the waters calmed and the tell tale swirls around a certain eddy disclosed a possible well of trout treasures. The faint rays of sunlight were beginning to turn the water's surface into a shimmering sheet of gold. It seemed as though the morning light had awakened this lazy liquid and it had begun a daybreak dance that would last throughout the day.
I lifted my fly rod and inspected the ties and my reel. All was in order. With my left hand I pulled enough line out to begin my cast. In a smooth steady forward and back motion I advanced my line and fly. Ten o’clock – Two o’clock, Ten o’clock – Two o’clock. Back and forth I moved my right arm as the line followed my directions, as would the first violin follow an orchestra leader's baton.
Cast after cast I worked this field of fish hoping that my lure would be enticing enough for one of these rainbow colored beauties to bite. This was a beautiful place and a soul filling experience. Everywhere I looked I could see God’s artistry displayed on the canvass of this rippling river. Every limb, rock, leaf, tree and bird had a place. Nothing appeared obtrusive or inordinate, that is until I looked down into the water just to the right of my feet.
There, lying on the bottom among the water worn river rocks were the remains of an extension cord. It was bright orange in color with a black plug at one end. It didn’t belong. It was out of place. It just didn’t fit. In the midst of all of God’s beautiful creation this orange discard seemed totally out of place. It was ugly.
I began to get angry at the insensitive lug that would have so little respect for all of this beauty, and with one thoughtless act mess it up. Didn’t he or she care about God’s creation? It was at that moment that I could see the inconsistencies and the spiritual debris that was cluttering and marring God’s greatest creation, man. Just as that discarded cord was out of place in the midst of God’s beauty so is the devil's discards in the life of a Believer and His church as a whole. We are God’s creation; His workmanship and we have no right to muck up His masterpiece. We are a work of art that our Father loves to admire, but sadly we have trashed His treasure.
The junk of this world is ugly and out of place in the life of His children and His church. It is as ugly and as out of place as an extension cord in a pristine river. It’s time for the Christian community to clean up and clear out the garbage that is smudging our souls and trashing our testimonies. This present world order and modern culture can never be the standard by which we judge that which is right or wrong, nor can it be the guiding factor in our decision making. We must live Biblically and be led Biblically. Living based on expediency in business, relationships, pleasure or politics will not only end in failure, but will trash our spiritual environment and leave a trail of filth in our Christian faith that will decay for decades. It will leave us wanting and our witness waning.
Now is the time to clean up our Christian environment. Now is the time to stop trashing it with the world’s garbage.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.