Have you ever picked crabs? For the Eastern Shore residents, this means those hard shelled blue crabs that come from the Chesapeake Bay – but I guess other hard-shelled steamed crabs will do for this example.
If you have, you realize that it is usually a time consuming endeavor to get to those sweet pockets of crab meat found in the back fin and appendages. However, it is often messy and can even be painful if you scratch your fingers on the broken shell and Old Bay seasoning gets into the cut. But it is a reminder to me of that line in the Lord’s Prayer: “ lead us not into temptation…”
Temptation, as used in the Bible, is understood in two basic ways: as an action causing us to sin OR as a test or trial that proves one’s faith. We are assured that God never tempts us with the goal of causing us to sin (ref. James 1:13) but God will allow us the free will to make our own choices. We are also assured that God is ever faithful, and in a time of testing, will make a way of escaping the temptation so we can bear it (ref. 1 Cor. 10:13).
When picking crabs, I can be tempted to just go for the back fin because it is the biggest chunk of crabmeat with the least effort; then I could just discard all of the other options to find meat in the claw, legs, and other areas. Being tempted to take the easy win or the easy way can find us missing out on sweeter and more savory blessings.
It’s interesting that I can sit for several hours and pick crabs and never get full on crab meat; if I get full, it’s usually due to the corn on the cob, the hush puppies, or the other goodies available before me. Again, the temptation to fill ourselves with other things in life can make our schedules too full for the better things God has in store for us.
Many times, when I am finished with what I want to eat, I’ll sit and pick out the rest of the crabs so that the meat can be saved or shared. If I am in a rush, I don’t take the time and rush through the experience – missing an opportunity to not only be fed but also to feed others.
Another temptation when picking crabs is to throw away the broken and emptied shells. While I am not a Master Chef, I do know others who take the discarded empty shells and use them as a base for the best crab bisque you ever tasted. Thank God he didn’t discard my brokenness but used it for making my life that much richer.
Our trials and tests in life allow us to strengthen our faith muscles; because muscles that aren’t used atrophy – and our faith in God is no different. To really get to the rest of the “good stuff” when picking crabs, some folks will use other implements (knives, mallets, etc) – for sometimes, it takes more than just our own will power and hand strength to get to the goodness that can feed us.
Since each one of us will face temptation, our prayer is that “we will not be lead into temptation” – that means we need God’s help to not fall into selfish desire that draws us away from God or fall when faced with a test that can ultimately become our testimony to God’s presence in our lives. Lead us not into temptation reminds us that we need to fully rely on God at all times, at work, rest, and play.
Truth is, one cannot pick hard-shell crabs until one has obtained them. For me, that means going to the dock or nearby seafood store to purchase them. The fishermen who caught those crabs had no intention of eating them all – they caught them with the idea that others could share in the catch. And yes, there is a price to pay but the opportunity is worth it.
Lord, we know that you give us free will to choose you and your way that leads to life. Lead us not into the temptation of trying to take the easy way of being afraid of the messiness of being your disciples. Lead us not into a hurried rush where we miss the opportunity to see you through the sharing with others, but to sit and look and listen and talk and rest in you. Make us not afraid of the trials and tests in our lives. Help us see the sweetness of your love within all things that nourishes our faith and grows our trust in you. May we taste and see that Your Word is a goodness worth waiting for. Amen.