Don't Be Fooled You Don't Know What's Under the Surface

Anyone who has done any significant amount of fishing knows about snags. For those of you who do not fish, a snag is an underwater object that your fishing lure gets caught on that not only prevents you from catching the fish that you were trying to catch, but also frequently claims your lure. Years ago we had the opportunity to visit the Kenai River in Alaska, a famous salmon fishing area. In the visitor area near the river was this exhibit which had the label on it "King of Snags." Apparently someone hooked a large crane onto an object in an area of the Kenai River where people had always had trouble with lures getting caught on a snag.
 A log with hundreds of fishing lures attached
The crane was strong enough to lift the object, a large log, out of the river. When they put it on dry ground they discovered that the log was literally covered with lures and tackles from massive numbers of fishermen who had hooked the snag and eventually broken their lines off, leaving their lure impaled on the log. It was fun to watch first time visitors to the log react to it. Non-fisherman would look at it with bewilderment, but fishermen would break out in hysterical laughter. As the sign on the ground in front of it says, this truly was the "king of snags."

Life in the United States is very much like what we have portrayed on the cover of this issue and what we see at the bottom of the previous page. We live in a culture and in a time when there is unbelievable wealth all around us. Athletes are paid millions to play a game for people to watch, and people make massive amounts of money through their physical beauty or because they have a talent to sing or act. It is easy for even those of us who do not make millions to become obsessed with what we have materially. A sports car, a boat, a house, or a camper can become something that we feel has incredible beauty and it can command all of our time, energy, and resources to maintain. We can even become fixed on a physically attractive mate or beautiful children. The problem is that under the surface of all of these things there is another "king of snags."

Have you ever wondered why anyone in America would use drugs? What is it that motivates a person to start using an illegal substance, or for that matter, to start using strong drink? You might suggest that it is an escape mechanism, but that would suggest to us that the only people who would use these things would be people in bad situations. Drug use is not confined to the ghetto. Those of us who teach in the public schools can tell you from personal experience, that it is usually the kids from affluent families who have the tendency to indulge in illegal drugs and alcohol. In my teaching experience the kids whom I taught who lived in the ghetto did not get into trouble by using the drugs, but rather by selling them to the affluent families in the area.

The point of this discussion is that drugs and strong drink are very frequently the end result of frustration and feelings of emptiness. Those who are the most affluent in our culture are not the happiest people in our culture. We would suggest to you that the "king of snags" in life is Satan. The Bible refers to Satan as the "prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Matthew 12:24). He is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and prophecy continually said that Satan's kingdom would be destroyed ( 2 Samuel 23:6-7; Matthew 12:29; 13:30; Luke 11:21-22; 1 John 3:8). Satan is also referred to by his characteristics--"the god of lies" (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9), "tempter" (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and a "destroyer" (1 Peter 5:8). These descriptions accurately describe what is happening around us, as we see people frustrated by the fact that their acquisition of things did not bring them the fulfillment and happiness that they thought they would. If you have put everything into something that looks beautiful but has this huge snag underneath it, you are doomed to emptiness and dissatisfaction with your life.

As you think about the reality of all this, you have to be reminded of the words of the wealthiest man who ever lived as he wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:2,3,8,9 (The Word--The Bible From 26 translations):

Vanity, vanity, all is meaningless. What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?. All things are wearisome more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, or the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Read the whole chapter as Solomon continues to describe what many in our culture have come to understand the hard way. Real joy, fulfillment and happiness in life comes by involvement with God and in His plan for man. Solomon concludes in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Paul demonstrates this as he comes to the end of his life and is able to say (2 Timothy 4:8):

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me.

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct04.