Matthew 4:19 Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
This story is not about catching fish. It’s about catching a chipmunk. Close enough, right?
Children parade past the deck of my trailer at Living Word Camp all summer, so I thought nothing of it when a little group of five or six approached. As they got nearer though, I sensed a moving band of unadulterated ecstasy with twelve-year old Naomi at the center. Actually, it wasn’t Naomi at the very center; it was the chipmunk in her clutches, a live chipmunk. The kids were celebrating Naomi’s catch, taking turns petting Chippy (not Naomi) on the head. Chippy seemed perfectly fine with all of it. He (or she?) was a satisfied star!
Naomi told me they got Chippy to come closer and closer using peanuts as bait. Next they enticed him to eat peanuts out of their hands. Finally Naomi held a peanut in her two hands held together like a platform for Chippy to climb on. It was a trap. Naomi said, “Chipmunks are really fast, so I just had to go for it, and grab him aggressively. I hoped he wouldn’t bite me. He did scratch and struggle at first.”
“It didn’t bite you, Naomi?” I double checked. I had to be sure, thinking of rabies, lyme disease, cholera, bubonic plague – who knows?
“No. He calmed down when we started petting him.”
I have to say, in my forty-plus years of camping, I have never seen anything like it. Naomi’s mom wasn’t nearly so impressed. She told Naomi it was gross, and she should, “Let that thing go right now!” No doubt Chippy ran free with conflicting feelings of joy at being free and offense for being called “that thing.”
I think the moral of the chipmunk story and it’s connection to our verse for today are clear. May all of us be just as clever, just as persistent, just as courageous, and just as loving as Naomi when it comes to winning people to Christ.