I love this image. First time I saw it, it made me laugh. I don’t know why really… just the words fish guts I guess. This sign is located on what is very obviously a garbage can, in fact, it says G A R B A G E right on the top in big green letters.
So why the harsh sign. I mean where else is one supposed to put fish guts other than the garbage? I will get back to this, but first let us take a little side trip over to the hootenanny known as the book of Deuteronomy. Today’s devotion is based on the second time the ten commandments are listed in the bible. The first is in Exodus; we looked at those yesterday, but today Moses trots them out one more time as the story is retold before they enter into the promise land. As they were back in Exodus, so these commandments remain important to community, life and relationships.
So back we go to the garbage cans and the prohibition of fish guts. First off these cans sit near the edge of Jackson Harbor, just feet away from the town dock. Many a commercial fisherman, as well as vacationing anglers, have docked after harvesting the bounty of Lake Michigan. Once you have caught a fish, you have to clean them, and you get, you got it… fish guts.
Here is the deal, ever smelled fish guts after they have been left in a warm enclosed container? If so, you
know, oh, do you know, if not… your nose has never encountered something quite so vile. That being said, garbage by its very nature has the propensity to be stinky, so again, why the fuss with fish guts?
Look at the photo, do you see that light blue shape in the upper right-hand corner? That’s Karen’s lunch wagon. Yup, need a snack or a little lunch, she’ll fix you up, but can you imagine working and trying to sell food just feet from a toxic brew of fish guts?
Karen is very nice lady, and you wouldn’t want her to deal with that smell. She makes her living in part by operating this lunch wagon so that people might enjoy a can of soda on a warm summers day, or hot dog after a trip over to Rock Island. For Karen’s sake, for the sake of
those who just want a Snickers or a popsicle this sign declares “NO FISH GUTS!” It is meant to give those who clean fish a bad time, but to allow all people a chance to enjoy the beauty of Jackson Harbor.
God’s law is in place for just the same reason. It isn’t meant to cause us grief, but to allow us to build each other up, to care for one another, and to realize that we are part of something beautiful. Our lives tell a tale, our actions tell tales of what tale we hold true in our lives. When we see in the law the gift it is, we do not look to it for our salvation, but we look to it for the sake of the other, to serve and to love as Jesus did and he knew a thing or two about fish guts I am sure!