A friend of mine went fishing early one day. He’s usually well prepared, but on this day, he ran out of bait early. Just as he realized this, he happened to glance down the riverbank and noticed a cottonmouth with a frog in its mouth.
Apparently, frogs are good bass bait. Being an avid fisherman, he just couldn’t help himself. He snuck up on the snake and grabbed it right behind the head. Deftly, he took the frog and put it in his bait bucket.
Of course, now, he had a slight problem. How would he get rid of the snake without getting bitten? Fortunately for him, he always carries a flask of whiskey when he fishes. He snatched the flask and began to pour some down the snake’s throat.
The snake came back.
The snake’s eyes rolled back, and it went limp. My friend released the reptile into the lake without incident. He then took the frog, baited his hook, and continued angling.
About half an hour later, he felt a nudge on his foot. He looked down and was a bit startled to see the snake there and jumped back. Then he saw it. The snake had come back with two frogs.
This is, of course, a fictional story. My friend never carries whiskey. But the snake… He’s the real story. He got sidetracked.
Snakes, like all animals, only have to concern themselves with very few things in life. They eat, reproduce, and… Well… I guess that’s all. This one, however, got distracted from the truth. He gave up three meals for a couple slugs of joy juice.
He stumbled (or slithered, I guess) across something that was new, exciting, and somewhat irresistible. It’s an all too familiar story.
We all get distracted from the truth.
You’ve heard a lot of stories like this in your life. Most of those stories are about human beings, though. Someone stumbles across something that entices them, and they’re off traipsing after the elusive dream, the temporary high, or the wild goose. In short, they get distracted from the truth.
As you probably know, there are many truths in life. Unfortunately, for every truth, there seem to be a hundred temptations to lure us away from the reality that keeps us grounded.
Jesus told us that we should get to know the truth, because “the truth will set you free.” He also told us that he, himself, is “The Truth.” In fact, he proclaimed that he is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Plenty of non-believers know that verse as well as believers. Still, people (believers and non-believers alike) get distracted from the truth of Christ.
Sometimes I’m right there with everyone else. Sometimes I just want to do my own thing. I get a taste for something I shouldn’t have and I do crazy things to quench that new thirst. Fortunately, after sixty-six years on this planet, I’ve discovered that it’s always better to get back to the truth—and that it’s much better to do it sooner than later.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]