Fishing for Answers

Published May 9, 2016 by Dawn

All I wanted to do was sit on the river and fish. Mother’s Day is supposed to be beautiful! It’s supposed to be restful! Someone else is supposed to do everything for once and Mom is supposed to be able to sit down and do nothing for one day. One day a year … it’s all I ask!

It didn’t happen. I tried. I did everything the day before. Picked up everyone’s stuff all over the house, did the sweeping, mowed the yard, did the dishes twice. I put a lot of effort into preparing my house for an effortless Mother’s Day. I bought my favorite things for lunch so I could cook what I wanted for a change, and it was supposed to be awesome.

It wasn’t. I slept through praise practice at church and cried through most of the worship service before God filled me with the peace and joy I needed to “make it.” I “made it” through the next hour and a half. Everyone complained about lunch, and no one wanted to watch Netflix afterward. They were all waiting for the climactic event of the day: I told them we’d go to the river. So they kept asking when we were leaving …

When I had had my fill of aggravation, I decided we’d just go. That’s when I realized that my fishing license was MIA. Gone. Not anywhere. Especially not where it goes, or even where I usually see it when it’s out of place. Just gone. So before we get to the river, we had to pick a copy up from the store. And before that, we had to vacuum out the lovely 32 ounces of Gatorade someone accidentally spilled in the back floorboard of my new car … and didn’t tell me about until it had stewed overnight.

While I was at the store, I picked up a big container of live crickets. My son always asks me to get them, and I always refuse, because while the list of things I am afraid of is pretty short, “bugs” is somewhere near the top. Right next to rejection and relationships. It’s that bad. I hate bugs. I thought I could overcome it. Maybe … Or, at the very least, I could just have my little man put them on my hook.

Didn’t happen.

I got to the river and suddenly realized I was the only one pulling my pole out of the car. “Um, aren’t you going fishing?”

“No, I really just want to swim.”

I can do this.

I carried the tackle, my pole and the nasty bucket of crickets to the river, found a rock out in the middle I could get to and perch on to fish, and prepared to fish. I took my Bible, my tackle, the crickets and my pole out to the rock, which had a steep slope on it, but I felt sure I could manage. I sat down, tied a hook on the line and opened the crickets. Immediately, one jumped toward me. Closing the lid, I reconsidered: I need a plan… 

I looked through my tackle box and grabbed the swiss army pliers (probably not a thing, but it is a fishing tool that resembles a swiss army knife, but unfolds into a pair of pliers) and decided that I would catch a cricket with the pliers and then just hook it without touching it. I got one with little trouble, but only caught it by its legs. It started struggling, so I decided I needed to readjust the little bugger before I could get the hook in it. I put it down in the tackle box and that’s when it happened.

It. Touched. Me. I screamed. And freaked out a little. Or a lot.

The cricket container holding the other 49 crickets I might have used fishing rolled down the steep slope and went into the water. I watched in horror. Then I decided I needed to make the most of this one cricket I had left, so I turned my efforts to getting him in the pliers just right so I could hook him without touching him.

Finally, I did it! He was hooked and dangling on the end of the line that laid across my leg. It touched me again. I tried to keep cool and dangle him over the water while I reeled him in a little so I could cast. Succeeding at that, I gave a good cast and immediately caught my first tree.

So … this fishing thing … No matter how I imagine it working out, the reality is always so different than I expect. I’m not very good at it. Ever. It’s never as relaxing as I think it will be. But you know what is relaxing? Putting the pole down, with the hook still attached to a tree, or rotting log at the bottom of the river, or whatever, and picking up my Bible. I can sit in the middle of a river for a while and read my Bible and feel completely at ease. And that’s what I did. It was nice.

Here’s the point: Life often isn’t what we expect. We make these plans, and envision exactly how things will work out, but  rarely do things ever “work out.” Plans are so easy to make, but life is complicated and … hard. It’s going to cause heartaches and anxiety. You’re going to lose your crickets. Or snag a tree. Or … whatever kind of upset might rouse you to maniacal laughter or tears, and eventual medication.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails” (Prov. 19:21). Truth: we make all kinds of plans. Sometimes, things work out, and sometimes, they work out really different than we imagine they should. Mother’s Day is a bust. Your marriage fails. An accident robs your cradle. Life happens, and sometimes, our best laid plans fail us. But the Lord’s purpose prevails.

I know, it’s not always a comforting word. I’ve been a single mother for thirteen years. And I think I’m awesome. And I have two awesome kids, but one of them struggles with depression. He just wants a daddy. Or he wants to die. That’s a short list of Plan A followed by Plan B right now.  What is God’s purpose in that? I don’t know. But I know God. I know He is good. I know things will one day make sense although right now, I am seeing things dimly. One day, it will all make sense. But right now it doesn’t. Much like I set my cricket on the hook and cast it straight into a tree, I have done my part and failed. I’m not very good at this. Not relationships, not life.

Here’s my hope: Although “in this world you will have trials and tribulations” (John 16:33), “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an even greater glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). I don’t necessarily like how things turn out. I like to be able to anticipate the road ahead, but that’s not realistic for the most part. There are so many twists and turns, I am road sick most of the time. But I know that when I see the whole forest instead of each tree as it comes at me, I will better understand why things turn out the way they do. Sure, some of it might be my fault. But I console myself with the truth that God’s plan prevails. He just may have to do some reworking to get me where He wants me to be.

While we wait for life to untangle, we can grab our Bibles and listen to the River while we read. The Holy Spirit, often represented by water or a river, will soothe us while we “listen” to the voice of God through the scriptures. Our light and momentary troubles achieve that greater glory by getting our focus off the world and onto God, and beholding Him, we become more and more like Him everyday (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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