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July 2, 2012

Outside the Box

I received an invite this past Thursday evening to fish the following day with friends and fellow Cool Spring Outdoor Ministry team members, Mike and John. I took a few minutes Thursday night to check out the forecasted tides, temperatures, and winds for the following day. Discovering that we were going to have less than ideal tides, breezy conditions, bright sunny skies and record high temperatures, I was feeling less than confident, needless to say, that we would have a productive day on the water. But, a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work, right!
Well, we wound up fishing the spots that I had fished in that area several times prior, and we managed to catch a few keepers. Having thoroughly fished those areas, though, and not wanting to quit fishing, we decided to try a couple nearby spots, although none of us had fished them before as they never appeared to be worthwhile on the nautical charts. As it turned out, though, it was those two spots that yielded the majority of the fish we caught on Friday, and which made the day go from just average to border-line phenominal. In fact, the largest two specks and the most active and agressive bites came during a period of 11:00am to 1:00pm, during a slack low tide, in 2 feet of water which was 86 degrees!

Outdoorsmen are all the time defining the locations and conditions under which we must fish or hunt in order to be able to catch fish or harvest game. We tend to return to the places where we have previously experienced success, even when those spots are no longer productive, because at one time they were good, while we lack the confidence to try new spots and new techniques. As I was reminded on Friday, though, our most rewarding catches, harvests and experiences can occur in unfamiliar locations and under less than 'ideal' conditions. Similarly, God reminds us that we ought not keep Him in a box, limiting how and where He can and will work in our lives and in our world. I was first made aware of this revolutionary way of thinking about 12 years ago while working through Blackaby's 'Experiencing God'. During that study, I was encouraged to identify where God is already working in and around me and join Him there, rather than expecting Him to work inside the walls and limitations in which I often place Him. During one of Jesus' dialogues with the Pharisees, He notes that they have become rigid like old wineskins; they could not accept faith in Jesus that would not be contained or limited by man-made ideas or rules. We need to keep our hearts open to the fact that God is working in new and innovative ways in order to reach those around us with the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, if we are willing to lay our man-made traditions and self-imposed limitations aside and come alongside Him in these 'new works', we can experience the heart and love of God like never before. - GE

"And who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? For the new patch shrinks and pulls away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger hole than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wineskins." Mark 2:21-22 (NLT).

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