After too many decades fishing streams to make public, I’ve learned that more often than not, if the trout are interested they’ll let you know pretty quickly. Yes, I’ve caught trout in spots you’d never guess a trout would reside, but ya gotta know the odds. So last September I hiked well above the campground on Rock Creek near Bishop and headed for the stream. The first hole looked OK, but not great. So I passed the nightcrawler a couple of times on each portion of the hole, didn’t get a bite, and moved on. Not overly promising, so I spent little time there.
The next several holes were the same, then I approached the hole in the pic, which looked even better in person. I must have made at least six passes over each likely route with no bites, until that solid tug on the line hit, one that sends a jolt of electricity from my hand straight to my heart. The slow, steady tug of a large trout, not the vicious but tiny strike of a smaller one.
He was pretty canny, on his home turf, and didn’t particularly care for the hook, so it took some time to land the 14 incher, nice for that creek. Hope he grows some more for next year.
I knew those first holes didn’t warrant spending a lot of time on them, but I’ve caught trout in them—so I gave them a shot, got no response, and quit. But the last hole had better potential, and I didn’t quit after probably 30 passes in all. That paid off. And, he gave a faith lesson.
Knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em only comes not only from a lot of fishing but a lot of living, a lot of analyzing, and even then mistakes occur.
I wish I’d learned this principle of life earlier. As pastor of one church, I quit too soon. I followed the wisdom I’d been taught to not “split a church,” graciously resigned, but should have stayed and fought. At another church I stayed too long. It needed a lot of changes, I navigated the minefields, but should have resigned two years earlier and let another enjoy the new place. You sometimes get scars when pruning for health.
Jobs. Friendships. Houses. Ministries. Marriages. Even religious positions. I’ve had to quit on a number of beliefs as I learned more of the Bible. These all can have a best time to quit. Jesus himself told us there’s a time to kick the dust off our sandals and leave. But how can we tell when it’s time to leave or stay?
My best answer, I don’t know. But I can give some brief tips. First, pray about it. A lot. Second, find out what the Bible says about that. Third, get godly and good advice. Fourth, don’t be too hasty and quit too soon. Fifth, don’t be so slow that you needlessly damage yourself and others. Sixth, lean on your experiences. The more mistakes you make the more material you have to learn from, so don’t expect perfection. Seven, when you make a mistake, try to repair it if you can, forgive yourself, and move on to the next adventure. But learn.
Kick Starting the Application
Think back to some times you’ve quit too soon or too late. What most led you to those decisions? How much did you bathe it in prayer? Did you get some good counsel? Would you make the same decision again in a similar situation? Of those 8 tips above, which is most difficult for you? Do you face a decision to stay or quit right now? How can these tips guide you in making a godly decision?