An Inedible Prize

It is called the Tarpon Capital of the World. A relatively small strait of water running from the Gulf of Mexico where tarpon migrate each year to spawn. Tarpon season is from mid-April to mid-July and thousands of fishermen descend upon this tiny island during that period of time. The marina on the island stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accommodate the influx of fishermen.

Fishermen travel from all over the world to catch the prize Tarpon. Each fishing trip out on the water costs them hundreds of dollars. Many come back disappointed with nothing, not even a bite. But the tarpon are there. Countless Tarpon – weighing 50 to 150 pounds swirl on the surface of the water, taunting the fishing boats. As many as 50 to 100 boats are so close to one another that fishermen can converse boat to boat.

“Fish on!” the cry goes up. The Captain skillfully maneuvers the boat into open waters, as the other boats make way. A strenuous 15-20 minute battle between fisherman and fish takes place, with the Tarpon leaping several times, several feet out of the water. With a strong back, some skill, and a lot of luck the fish is pulled to boatside. The Captain says, “Get your pictures”. The Captain then releases the fish if the Tarpon is not to be mounted. There is never any talk of eating this 100 lb. meaty fish. Why? The Tarpon is not edible.

Hearing that, I thought of how we can go for the prize in life only to discover when we catch it, that it is not edible. Other than the fight to get it, it has no sustaining or lasting value. Once we land the prize, it’s over, finished, and then we are left with an empty feeling.

Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but the food which endures to eternal life…I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst…I am the living bread…if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (John 6)

Rev. Wendell Mettey
Revised 9/25/2013

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