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Ansell faith column: Reading the Bible vs. living by its direction

By Ken Ansell

When we lived in Denver a million years ago (before my call to the ministry), I became intrigued with fly fishing.  We would drive to the mountains and see guys fishing in creeks by the road.  Romantic to say the least, something I had only seen in my past subscriptions of Field & Stream or Sports Afield.

Later we moved to San Francisco, and there was an Orvis (fly fishing, sporting goods) store not too far from the financial district where I worked.  Once when I had a few extra dollars (only 2 kids back then), I went into the store thinking I would buy my first fly rod and become a California version of those guys we saw in Colorado.  Wow, was I wrong!  This Texas boy had no idea they were so proud of those things. I did leave with a purchase ($17.95 versus $400.00), I bought the "Orvis Complete Book on Fly Fishing" (the Bible of fly fishing).  I was going to read about the topic and then one day when I could afford it, I would be ready to actually do what I was so enamored with.

Two kids later on my 40th birthday, the Blonde (aka my wife Jennifer) bought me a fly rod from Orvis.  By this time, we lived in Waxahachie just south of Dallas.  After reading about it for 20-plus years, I was now actually going to qualify as a fly fisherman.  

There are some big time comparisons to Christianity in this fly rod saga.  The book I read about fishing with flies without ever actually fishing with flies is like Bible studying without Bible doing.  My friend says boots in the oven don’t make them a biscuit and so it makes me wonder - we do know reading the Bible doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian, right?

I read the book (Bible) and it is crazy (crazy good)!  It tells me Jesus was homeless and if I am going to follow Him I might be homeless too (Luke 9:58).  Some people’s reality however, might be much different.  Are we just reading the book about fishing or are we actually doing what it says? Are we reading the book (Bible) about “fishing for men (Mark 1:17)” and not actually fishing for men?  Are we hearing and doing or just hearing (James 1:22)?  Am I watching from a distance or actually following?  Makes me think about Nicodemus among others that were often so close to the Kingdom but not in the Kingdom (at least not yet).

Before fly fishing took over my life, we duck hunted a lot (that might be an understatement).  I have grown weary of getting up early in the dark, cold hours of the morning in order to get wet.  In fact, they say you have not been duck hunting unless you got wet.  I think it’s the same with Jesus.  If we do not follow the Rabbi close enough to have the same dust that is on His sandals - I’m not sure we are really following.  Check your feet, where’s the dust?  He asked me to ask you that.