Sammy was a good-looking young boy who lived in the deep south. His summer days were filled with times of walking through the woods, playing with friends, and fishing in the pond down the dirt road. Fishing was by far his favorite thing to do. Just about every day during his summer vacation, he would dig up some worms and head off, pole in hand, for a day of fishing.
This steamy hot day was like most others during Sammy’s summer break. Waking early, he could hear the pond calling him to come fish. Sammy quietly walked out the front door, grabbed his pitchfork and worm pail from the porch, and walked into the woods to search for bait. He turned over old stumps and dug under leaves hoping to find worms, and under one old stump he hit the jackpot. The ground was writhing. In two minutes he had all the bait he needed, and in 15 minutes he was at the pond. Reaching into his bait bucket, Sammy pulled out a big worm. He double hooked it and tossed it into the water. He noticed a stinging in his hand, but filled with the excitement of the moment, he paid no attention to it.
Within 30 seconds, Sammy had a strike and pulled in a nice catfish. Wow, he thought, a fish in the first minute. This is unbelievable! He put the catch on his stringer, hurried to re-bait his hook, and tried his luck again. Once again he felt a stinging sensation in his hand as he threw his hook into the pond. He didn’t have time to worry about it.
Within just a few seconds, he had another huge fish. He fumbled the next time he baited his hook–his hand felt numb and stiff. But Sammy was too excited about catching another fish to give it much thought. At the end of only an hour of fishing, Sammy had caught eight large fish. This was definitely his best fishing day ever. He was so proud of his accomplishment that, even though there was plenty of day left to fish, he threw the heavy stringer of fish over his shoulder and dashed down the dirt road toward home to show off his catch to his mom and dad.
The local sheriff happened to drive up alongside Sammy and started to congratulate him on his catch of fish. With a smile and a victory whoop, Sammy held up the stringer. The sheriff gasped, parked his car and strode over to Sammy. His eyes hadn’t deceived him–Sammy’s arms really were red and swollen to about twice their normal size.
“Exactly where have you been and what bait did you use to catch all those fish?” the sheriff asked
Sammy already guessed the answer. “I found some special bait under an old stump,” Sammy boasted. “These worms really wiggle good,” he commented, handing up the bait bucket for inspection.
After a close look at the worms, the sheriff went into fast-forward. Securing the bucket in his truck, he then scooped Sammy and his stringer of fish into the back seat of his patrol car. Spinning a U-turn on the gravel road, he sped off to the hospital, but Sammy was already dead.
What the sheriff had discovered was that Sammy had been fishing with baby rattlesnakes. Sammy’s deadly bait brought him a good morning’s fishing but cost him his life. Had Sammy stopped fishing after that first sting, he could have been saved. One bite from a baby rattler won’t kill a person who gets treatment in time. But Sammy was having fun and didn’t bother himself with the small voice of pain in his hand. Then, as his hand grew numb, even that small voice was silenced.
Playing around with sin is like using baby rattlesnakes for bait. Sinning seems harmless to young people who don’t recognize sin and are unaware of its deadly consequences. The more sin you get into, however, the more numb you become to its sting. In the excitement of the moment, you ignore the still small voice of God warning you of danger and encouraging you to choose life instead of death.