Knock On Wood

Recently, my husband and I were watching an episode of Deadliest Catch on our DVR.  I have always marveled at the superstitions the captains seem to believe and follow in order to procure a good season or safe travels.  One captain in particular caught my attention this year.

Keith Colburn, captain of the Wizard, was the most interesting to me.  As he was on his way to pull his first crab pot of the season, he calls his daughter to get some advice on how to ensure he gets a good number of crab in his pot.  She tells him to pull out a hair from his beard, put the hair in one of his nostrils, breath in and out deeply, and make a wish.  I’m sitting on my couch thinking surely he is going to thank her for the advice, hang up the phone, and not participate in that ritual.

I was wrong.  He proceeded to pull a hair out of his beard, breath in and out deeply while holding the hair in one nostril, and said things to the effect of “Big Numbers” and “Good Crab”.  He then proceeds to knock on all of the wood in the wheelhouse, hit a bobblehead sitting over to the side, etc.  He then tells the cameraman, “I’m doing everything I can to ensure good crab numbers for me.”

I marveled first at the depth of all of his rituals, but then began to feel very sorry for him. When you knock on wood, you are just knocking on wood.  When you are hitting a bobblehead, you are just hitting a bobblehead.  When you are sniffing your hair, you are just sniffing your hair.   All of the actions he took were profitable for nothing.  Isaiah 44:10 says, “Who but a fool would make his own god-an idol that cannot help him one bit?”

The superstition of knocking on wood seems to come from when mythical creatures or spirits such as Nymphs or Fauns were thought to inhabit living things such as trees.  When the tree was cut down, it was no longer alive so the spirit had to leave.  Knocking on wood was thought to drive away any malevolent spirits who might have come to inhabit the dead wood or would have heard the words you said and wish you ill harm.  It is not even true.  Trees are living things and God’s creation, but they do not have spirits.  The only ones that God breathed His spirit into were the man and the woman.

Who made man’s hair?  God.  Who made man’s nostril?  God.  Who made the sea and the crab?  God.  Who made the wood?  God.  Who in all of scripture has been able to cause a storm at sea or calm a storm at sea?  God and Jesus.  Who filled a fishing net so full it was breaking and almost caused the boats to sink when the fish were loaded on board by His word?  Jesus.  Who do I go to to intercede on my behalf in times of distress or need?  Jesus.  Psalms 146:3 & 5 says,  “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.  Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose help is in the Lord his God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” 

When we moved into this house, I decided to decorate my son’s bathroom in cowboy/western decor.  I hung four horseshoes on the wall with the U shape facing downwards.  After I hung them, I wondered if I had hung them the proper way.  I knew one way was lucky and the other was not.  I asked a Texas friend if it was right, and she said the U should be facing up to catch the luck.  I informed my son that I need to fix those horseshoes one day and face them up to catch the luck.  He said, “Mom, we don’t believe in luck.”  He was right.  We believe in the maker of the heavens and the earth who loves us and hears our prayers.  So, sometimes I look at those horseshoes and think I need to rehang them, but then I remember I don’t believe in luck.  I believe in God.

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