“Throw that one back. He’s not a keeper.”
Memories of fishing with my dad linger in my mind. A girly pre-teen, I refused to bait the hook with worms. Real ones. Rubber worms I could handle.
Still, I indulged in my dad’s hobbies in order to spend time with him. He’d been out of my life for a few years. Now, I wanted to know him and be with him.
But there’s something I quickly learned in this newfound sport—not all fish were keepers. Maybe it’s the sport of fishing—to brag that you caught this fish—then throw it back. Perhaps a desire to tell a big fish story. The thrill of using your hands to describe you caught a humdinger.
And sometimes the fish caught isn’t the one you want. You keep some, you throw some back.
Keeper Lessons in Life
After my early fishing adventures, I discovered keeper lessons in life. A boyfriend decided another girl made a better catch. Friends didn’t view me as a keeper and went fishing.
And my father’s absence became the springboard to draw false conclusions about keepers. See, no one wants to keep me.
I continued to wear the I-must-not-be-a-keeper badge into adulthood. Deceptive inside chatter tried to convince me.
- I’m in the company lay-off because others performed at a higher level. As an employee, I’m not a keeper.
- She stopped reaching out because I’m not her first choice. As a best friend, I’m not keeper material.
- I fell short in the committee’s standards. As a team member, I’m not good enough to keep.
Each time someone threw me back into life’s pond, my heart made a note. You’re not a keeper.
Am I keep-worthy?
But who decides keep-worthiness? The enemy hopes we’ll buy the world’s slick-selling guise, “Keep the deserving; throw the others back.”
Culture deems who’s a keeper.
- Star athletes. Check.
- Celebrities at the peak of their career. Check.
- The business man at the top of his game. Check.
- The she-does-it-all-well mom. Check.
- The picture-perfect wife. Check.
- A friend who’s best-friend-forever material. Check.
- Beautiful and flawless and sweet children. Check.
All good catches.
Yet, my reality, and I surmise your reality, looks unraveled compared to numbers 1-8. And even stars and beauty and careers and people with the brightest right-now spotlights eventually take a back seat.
The real-right-here moments expose a needy world longing for someone to keep them.
Orphan children wait and long for adoptive parents to choose them . . . love them . . . and keep them.
My friend, Asher, ministers to 200 orphans in his country of Pakistan. My heart breaks at the children’s cries. If we have mom and dad, we have clothes and food and Christmas gifts. Money for when we sick in the hospital.
Or a spouse announces, “I don’t love you anymore.” And they leave you for a keeper. A friend betrays you. You’re abandoned by someone who was supposed to take care of you. You didn’t make the cut in the contest, the job, the team, the family or the group.
Kept by Mercy
But—and this is a monumental but—the Lord consistently reminds me, “Karen, you’re a keeper.” The world shows no mercy to the undeserving.God’s kind mercy washed my sin-stained soul and chose to hang on to me. Click To Tweet
Out of God’s great compassion and loving mercy we’re kept. His unfathomable mercy assures, “I’ve caught a humdinger. You’re the one I searched for and wanted. My prize. You’re my catch of the day. You could never do anything to be thrown back.”The merciful Lord Jesus will never, ever, ever let you go. Click To Tweet
The Lord will not forsake his people, for they are his prize. Psalm 94:14 TLB
Prayer: Lord, I’m overwhelmed by Your keeping-mercy. You never cast off Your own. Today, remind me how tenderly You choose me and love me and keep me. Always. Amen.
Featured image and additional orphan image courtesy of Asher Mehmood, Evangelist and Chairman, Way of Freedom International Church in Pakistan. Feeding the Orphans.
Other images courtesy of Adobe Spark.