Crabbing in Herring Creek: A Parable on Life Lost

The little push-net was finally done, and the little boy was excited to catch some crabs. The tide was low, so it was a perfect time to grab the little chicken-wire and wood contraption to get into the shallows of the tidal creek. The creek bottom was soft and sticky to his bare feet; the greenish water was almost up to his knees and was full of water grasses. Minnows darted away from him as he moved away from shore.

After spying an extra dense bunch of water grasses, he lowered the push-net in front of him and leaned into the handle to push it through them. He was careful to keep the front of the push-net right at the soft bottom so no crabs could get under the front board. With a crab net and bucket tied to his waist, he had to half crouch and lean forward to move his new contraption through the grasses, but he was careful not to splash very much, or the blue crabs would skedaddle.

After a minute, he was pleased to have flushed a ‘doubler’ (a male and female crab together) and another single male crab at once. With the fast heave to raise the push-net to get it out of water, he wrestled the net to capture them and put them in the floating bucket. The grasses were so thick and the soft mud so stirred up that he had to pick another spot several feet away to use the push-net again. After a half hour, he had a half bucket of crabs, enough for his mom to cook up for dinner. The push-net was a success. He put it in a safe place after he separated the long strands of water grasses and a few little shrimp that hugged them. It took awhile to get the mud off his fcet, so he could take the prize to his mom.

That little boy was me. A couple decades later I visited those same waters and looked up and down the south side of the creek. The water was clear. There were no water grasses of any kind, no little holes showing where soft shell clams were sucking water in and out, and no little oyster shells or baby oysters. No minnows were darting here and there. The shore grasses were thin. The thick smell of mud and life were nearly gone. No boys and girls were crabbing in the shallows. No watermen were running trotlines. The water and creek bottom were, compared to decades ago, barren.

A decade ago I visited again. There was noise among media that the water quality was improving in nearby bigger waters, but life started in these little places like Herring Creek. I checked twenty miles away on another tidal river, and then checked a couple other places. No water grasses, minnows, crabs, oysters, or clams were in the shallows or could be found anywhere I looked. It was improving? Compared to when I was a little boy? It seems no one knew or had forgotten the difference or what had been lost. They had forgotten where it started. Life was lost.

Walking as a believer in Jesus Christ can be similar. The touch of fresh life from God begins. There is so much to learn and experience. A little young heart in Christ receives and bears fruit. Little things sometimes get more important than that precious life of Christ. Over time the qualities of faith, virtue, knowledge self control, steadfastness, a few others, and finally love seem to lessen in depth and meaning. They become less practiced and important. The Word is forgotten and hardly referenced. The life of the soul seems to wane. If this happens, a person gets near-sighted and nearly blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from former sins and walked in that fresh joy in Christ so long ago. Only a little life is left, and small little things that seem like improvement never really bring that much life, compared to what was near the beginning. The waters of the soul have become barren. Life was lost.

It is best to stay fresh with God, leaning into knowing Him, pursuing fruitfulness and life that come out of partaking in His life. There is little room for error. We grow in Him, or we slowly forget what it’s all about, unable to see.

Make choices wisely. Sin and corruption are the only alternative to not staying fresh with God. Through Jesus Christ we can have life, so make every effort to be faithful, and supplement that living relationship with the qualities that are befitting of that walk.

2 Peter 1: 3-4, 8-11


If you do not know Jesus Christ, life wanes just the same. Your life is short in the large scheme of things. God provides circumstances that often beckon the sinner to approach Him. Why not do it? The life He offers to the soul only takes turning from your way and receiving Him. Having received Him, as this parable suggests, it can wane without proper attention and heart attitude. God intends His life in us to grow, be fruitful, and expand. It is worth it to walk with Him. I have been a Christian for nearly 50 years, as has my wife. It is our heart’s desire to everyone be saved, know Him through life, and enter eternal life.

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