It was our first morning at a friend's cottage in the summer of 1997. The children were so eager, they hurried down to the dock, not wasting time to get dressed. Dad baited the hooks and the fishing began in earnest.
The hushed anticipation of a first bite was interrupted by a snapping sound.
Katherine turned away from the lake with a look of despair and shock. We were all briefly aghast. My 5 year old had to be processing in her disappointment, breaking the silence with this existential conclusion:
"Look where I am! My rod is broken-- but I'm not broken, so I have to go on with life."
These many years later, that phrase is an oft repeated helpful perspective when trouble hits.
I've just finished a wonderful book by Jill Briscoe, first published in 2000 and re-released "for such a time as this" in 2012. Out of the Storm and into God's Arms—Shelter In Turbulent Times, features Job, the biblical icon of unjust suffering, and many other helpful scriptures for dark and stressful periods of life. If you are familiar with Jill's writing and teaching, you know how richly she illustrates from her own life lessons.
"Keep Up Your Routines" is an important encouragement for anyone in God's Waiting Room. As Jill acknowledges, the enemy of our soul would "paralyze us with the pain of waiting and whisper in our ears, "Wait until things are back to normal before you get back into your routine."'
But the demands of our life don't go away, and I like to remember that we are in the full-time employ of the King of kings as His ambassadors. That gives the gift of each day meaning and purpose—and as promised, His Presence.
"Maybe we've lost a spouse, but we have the children to tend to. Maybe we've lost a job, but there's plenty to do at home as we job-hunt. And no matter what we've lost, there is the day-to-day upkeep of our bodies and our homes" Jill encourages.
During three and a half years of underemployment in the 90s, my husband and I embraced an "active waiting" posture. Jill talks about hobbies benefitting her at such times. Choosing to do something she enjoys has helped to relieve stress and promote the healing process. She points out that "routine helps to re-establish normal patterns of life for us and makes us feel a little bit more secure."
After Jesus' death, the bereft and bewildered disciples returned to the life and routines He had called them from. Fishing-- the familiar, brought comfort. They were out in a boat having fished all night without success. The Stranger on the shore directed them to throw their nets out again. The result was symbolic of the miracles that would accompany them in their new roles as "fishers of men." What had seemed a tragic and meaningless end as Jesus' disciples, was in reality graduation, just ahead of being commissioned into their destiny purpose!
Are you feeling defeated? Waiting… for a prodigal to return? Someone to share your life with? A job? Improved health or relationships? The worn-out quip "WAIT FOR IT" is not a bad spiritual posture! Did you know that another translation of the word wait is "hope"?
When you're down to nothing, God is always up to something.
Katherine happy with her catch!
In the waiting…try not to focus on what is broken. God may have your character under "divine reconstruction". As Jill says, "Wait on the Lord, and not on the answer." There's always more to learn about Him—and ourselves. Here's His promise:
"…those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Isaiah 49:23
Be sure to watch for my interview with Jill (in March 2015), and her husband Stuart Briscoe is coming soon as well to 100 Huntley Street with his new book—Getting Into God. No matter what's broken, this is the right stuff to help you "go on with life!"