Looking down from 50 feet away, the above hole at McGee Creek looked promising. Deep enough for a nice sized trout, with enough movement of water to bring plenty of food to hungry fish. I carefully worked my way down through the scrub brush and rocks and loose dirt, but at 10 feet away, the hole lost its great appearance. Up close, the shallow water moved too fast and held little promise. Appearances deceive.
But since I was so close, I moved down and eased in and drifted the line downstream to an area I couldn’t even see and felt a trout hit. I had to pull him against the current and over a small waterfall, but landed a nice 13” rainbow. Appearances deceive.
When fishing, deceiving appearances won’t usually hurt us much. But they can be deadly in life, and in following Jesus. Haven’t we all been betrayed by someone who appeared good and trustworthy, only to turn on us? Haven’t we all faced situations that looked promising, only to bring pain? So maybe we need to build some habits of looking below the surface, to discover patterns there that reveal values below.
Jesus gave one example when confronted by those who judged by tradition, by the surface, and ignored the deeper values below, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). Or, probe a bit. Before deepening a relationship with a person, take the time to see their heart. That especially counts when giving them responsibility for leadership in a church or parachurch organization, deceiving appearances can bring some trouble.
When looking into possible options for jobs, or houses, or investments, or just about anything, do your research. Particularly, look at likely consequences. Where might this decision end, what consequences can it bring? Look beyond the beginning to its logical consequences, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Be wise, and patient enough, to look downstream.
Kick Starting the Application
Think for a moment about a person or event that appeared promising in the beginning, but that became negative. How could you have handled it differently? We can either over or under analyze. Do you tend to fall on the impulsive side or the analytical? How has that worked for you? What changes can you make to bring a balance? What role can Jesus play in your assessment?