I have been fishing this stripper season; and so far, I have caught more strippers out of season and just two in season. The respect of the law made me put back the rockfish even with the encouragement of others to keep them.
Recently, I was fishing in the Rappahannock River on a friend’s boat. He was bottom fishing, and I was jerking and winding a tandem bucktail. When I finally got a hit, it was a larger fish. As I was reeling it in, we could see that it was a stripper. That’s a good eating fish; and if we didn’t catch any more, we made plans to share it. My friend netted the fish because we didn’t want to take a chance on losing it. It measured twenty-seven inches, but there was something wrong with the fish. It had a hole in it and sores on its sides. I was very disappointed, but there was no way we were going to eat that fish. So my friend put it back in the water. We didn’t catch any more rockfish that day. We ended up fishing for other fish because there were no strippers around.
It really hurt having to give that fish up, and it made us wonder what caused it to get like that. I bet it hurts God a lot more than that dealing with people. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13:47-50, “That the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast in the sea; and when it was full, they drew it to shore. They sat down and put the good fish in vessels and threw the bad fish away. So it will be at the end of the age.”
Jesus is talking about God’s final judgment when the wicked, those who didn’t want Christ’s character, will be destroyed. And the righteous, those who have the desire to be like Christ and do His will by the power of the Holy Spirit, will live with Him forever.
God is pleading with people, “Why do you want to be like that?” He doesn’t want to throw anybody away in the furnace of fire.