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Live, blossom, be fruitful — Don’t not be a snag

My daddy loved fishing. And I loved fishing with my daddy. When I was a boy, we would cross the Mississippi River at Natchez and go to an oxbow lake known as the “Old River,” at Vidalia, Louisiana.

As Daddy drove the pickup with boat in tow across the big bridge, I would gaze below to see if I could see a whirlpool. I would also look up and down the river for a barge trudging the mighty Mississip.

I would try to imagine how deep the river was or what gigantic creature lurked in its murky depths. The river fascinated me. Still does.

Life seemed a little more peaceful on the other side of the levy. There was lots of fun to be had on and in the river—and danger. As a boy, I’m not sure which came first, the fun or the danger.

Sometimes they met up at the same time. Those are the times that shave away years from a mother’s life. It is interesting how a mom will get mad at a child for surviving a near catastrophic event.

Daddy was an expert bream fisherman. I have spent many long summer days under the canopy of gigantic cottonwoods and willows. Looking back, I can still see the lily pads holding their purple blooms toward the sky.

Occasionally, a redheaded woodpecker would attack a hollow tree with the jackhammer on its nose sending forth a rapid and resounding thud-thud-thud through the flooded forest.

A bull bream making a sucking noise in the duck weed easily arrested my attention—sounded like he wanted a cricket. I gladly lowered it to him.

The fight was on! It took all my strength to wrestle him from the water and hoist him into the boat. It always amazed me how mighty they could pull.  As my Papaw Case often said, “That one was headed for Houston, Texas.”

Although Daddy’s first love was catching bream, he was no novice at hauling in white crappie or “white perch.” Crappie lived in deeper water, out on the edge of the trees in the “snags.”

A snag is the dead remains of a tree. Snags deteriorate from top to bottom. Snags provide no shade. They can be deceptive—although they seem solid at water level, they can be volatile above. If you bump a snag with your boat, the top could break off and fall on you. I’ve had some near misses.

Some people remind me of snags. They seem solid, but are spiritually dead. They provide no shade, no shelter, no fruit.  If you bump into a religious snag, they may drop something hateful on you. Their deterioration is pitiful to witness.

Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:18-21).

Wherever Jesus is, there is life, for Jesus is “the Life.” Followers of Christ have His life in us, He is our life. Our main “task” is to let Jesus’ life flow into and out of ours. As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Be a fruitful, blooming, living tree; don’t be a snag.

Garland Boyd is pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church. He can be reached at 601-833-6760.