I finally had a good day of fishing here in UT. To be honest, I was beginning to doubt that I would ever catch a fish again. We were up in the Uintas camping as a staff team for a few days and I fished for 3 hours one afternoon, and 4 the next. The first day was not very impressive, but by the 2nd day I FINALLY figured out what was on the menu. The truth is, even though I have had great days of fly fishing in the past, when you have a number of days in a row of gettin’ skunked in the stream[s], you feel like all of the fish in all of the streams, and possibly even the Creator Himself, are probably against you!
In similar fashion I was talking to a friend at church a while ago, and she shared with me how she is in a season of uncertainty about her life and ministry. I stood there listening to her doubt and confusion, and it reminded me of my own … not unlike my experiences in the river. It amazes me how easily we get out of sorts … even in the midst of pursuing Jesus! My friend so truly is an amazing woman of God – with clear giftings and ministry into so many people’s lives. In the short year we have been here, I have seen and heard dozens of accounts of her influence in [my life and] the lives of those around us. To hear her say, ‘I’m not really sure of what I’m supposed to be doing…have I missed it?” … it reminds me that we are all so easily knocked off our way.
So Jesus, how is it that I, as one of your kids, get so easily off track? How is it that so often I am either in the uncertainty of brokenness, needing healing and re:assurance, or in the bold callousness of ‘feeling great’ and all the while operating in my own flesh? I swing back and forth on this pendulum of life with you Jesus, with so few moments of purely balanced ‘walking in the Spirit.’ I know God that in those pure moments of dependence on You, I find in my life Your humility and Power working simultaneously … and I want to stay in that stream forever.
The other day on the stream I was an hour and a half into the 2nd day’s hike upstream when a beautiful hole emerged just around the bend…and I had one of those perfectly balanced moments. The smooth surface of the hole lay still and shaded under the protection of the trees above as it seamlessly fell over the rock fall into the rapid that foamed right under my feet. The knee-deep pool about 30 ft long sat motionless, except for the occasional ‘gulps’ of water that evidenced that at least 2 fish were feeding off the surface and calling this hole home. I had been thru a number of patterns already, and even thought I had caught about 10 fish, I wasn’t quite in the groove yet. So I tied on a size12 black mosquito pattern with a grey hare’s ear #18 trailing off the back and crept up toward the hole.
I was standing below the hole, so the surface of the water was just about at the height of my chest. As I was working the line out, getting it to the right distance, I found my self a bit nervous. I set the fly[flies] down a bit to roughly and worried that I might’ve blown the opportunity with my first cast. And sure enough: Nothing.
Have you ever been there? excited at one more opportunity to hear clearly from the Lord … and nothing. You thought for sure you read the signs correctly – that you felt the leading of the Spirit – that God was going to use this situation … and nothing. Is it me God? Did I screw up the approach again? What’s the right formula – what’s the right approach? How long God?
Oh I’ve been there – with Jesus and with the stream. But on this day, on my second cast into that hole, with a bit more line out and a couple shadow casts over the surface, by the time my mosquito graced the water, the glass erupted without notice and a dance was on! The truth is that I caught a dozen more beautiful rainbows and brookies on that fly combination in the next hour up the stream!
Now catching big fish, or a lot of fish, is fun, don’t get me wrong! But for me the deep joy of fly fishing is working my way up the stream to the place that only a few have ventured, waiting on the right moment, tying on the right fly, presenting it all just perfectly, and enjoying the dance of the fish on the end of my 8X tippet. And until that moment, I was doubting that I would ever get the right combination back again. So the best part is feeling like I heard and saw clearly, approached the hole with stealth and precision, and caught that fish!
What’s amazing to me is that it will only take a few days of not catching any fish for me to forget this instance completely. My memory seems to have almost no tolerance for the absence of catching fish, or for the long dark of the night, when it seems that morning will never arrive. When it seems that I have not heard from God freshly about the direction of my life and ministry for a few months, and the night seems particularly cold or uncomfortable, I find my heart questioning that I ever heard clearly from Him.
David cried out to the Lord similarly in #27
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.”
The truth is that it is all grace from God that we hear Him at all. That He gives us His Spirit to comfort and lead us is too good to be true. So God I wait on You. For now, in the dark of the night, I will gratefully write of the promises You have given, of the words You have graced me with, and I will be strong and take heart, eagerly longing for the morning, when I feel your warmth and see clearly again.