Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
When I was growing up, my grandfather and I would go fishing at times. We would load some fishing gear in the back of his pick-up and head out to a little pond that my grandfather called, “Miller’s Lake.” It was a pond that was in the middle of a field several hundred yards off of a state road that runs along the north end of our city. There was a turn off of that road that was somewhat hidden. If you weren’t familiar with it, it would likely be missed.
The road was a short drive which led to a clearing. He would park there, and we would walk for a while to the pond. That walk, between the truck and the pond, seemed like it took half of the day. The anticipation and excitement of getting to fish may have made it seem like a longer walk? When we finally arrived at our destination, my grandfather would unfold a little wooden stool which he had made. He would sit on it, bait my rod and reel and throw the line out into the water for me. I remember watching the bobber float until it went under. I’d usually catch really small fish, but the thrill of catching them was always a good feeling! The excitement of bringing something up out of the water, and not knowing what it would be was always a cool thing to me. I really enjoyed those days. Those memories of my grandfather are something I also value.
For my first time yesterday, my father-in-law, son and myself went on a fishing trip in the open sea. We purchased our spots on a boat, and set out to do the fishing miles out in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My goodness, what an experience! I have been fishing ponds, lakes and rivers for years, but this was not like that. It was a totally different world. The beautiful open sea, the perfect weather, the people, the fishing gear, the types of fish we had caught. It was all so nice.
The excitement of pulling up the unknown out of the deep blue was also a great experience. There were so many fish; Trigger, Ladyfish, B-line, Chocolate Porgy, White and Red Snapper. A bunch of exotic fish were caught by everyone who had a rod and reel in their hand! We observed a group of large Jellyfish swimming along the starboard side of the boat. I saw a Stingray! All in all, it was a very cool experience!
Yesterday was a great and memorable time. I won’t soon forget all of the many cool parts of our five-hour trek in the sea. As I was looking around at the other people who had signed up for the trip, I noticed a lot of straight faces. It seemed as though many of the others were not really enjoying themselves? As the deck hands were explaining to our group on what to expect, one of them asked us, “Are you all ready to do some fishing?!” There was a less than enthusiastic response from the crowd. I was looking around at some of the faces as we set out to the first fishing spot. There was not a lot of conversation. Not a lot of smiles. It seemed as if the trip was kind of a bummer for most of the people around the area that we were in? My observation may have well been wrong, but to see the blank looks while I was all smiles was something that made me wonder if these people were enjoying what they had set out to do?
You may be wondering what Proverbs 3:5-6 has to do with my story? I’m getting there.
I was listening and observing as the day went on to the voices and expressions that were around me. Some were discouraged by tangled lines. Others were complaining about the way that the bait would not stay on the hooks. Some were not familiar with using the type of rod and reel we were using, and it was a struggle for them to even maintain it. Some were not catching much, while the person next to them was catching a lot. “I don’t understand?”, I had heard someone say at one point.
There are so many things that I also had not understood about the trip, but I didn’t let that keep me from remaining in a state of joy. Like the problems that the people had experienced yesterday during the trip, we have the trials within life. We have to choose to remain in a state of peace. We have to look at how these problems that we have are clouding our view of the beauty. Did these people miss the beautiful water and sky? Did they miss the beautiful life that God provided for us to admire, and eat? Did they overlook the gifts of His creations that were all around us yesterday; the beautiful splendor that this world of His beholds? Did someone forget about the great times of their yesterdays, when they also had the unforgettable, joyous childhood experiences fishing with their grandfathers? Did the stressors and frustrations drown out the magnificent experience that these individuals could have had? Do they see God in this? The truth is, I don’t know? I have no idea if I was correctly interpreting their words and actions?
It may sound silly to some; the contrasts of the reactions between myself and the others, but it is an example of our choice to live in a state of peace, or a state of misery. A state of His strength and provision, or a state of our fleshy torment. There is always a choice to be made as we walk through this life. The problems will be there. The trying times will come, and the tangled rods and reels, the loose baits on hooks, and the days of not enjoying our time will surely pop up. Although, the choice to remain joyous throughout all of these times is just that; a choice.
I have grown into someone who is very aware of what the Lord is in control of, as I am allowed to make my choices along the way. How my free-will is intertwined with His omniscience. I will remember that sometimes I will not understand why things that bring some sort of strife happen, but He does understand. I may not understand why the times will be hard and the days will be long as I wait out the storm, but He does. I may not always be strong throughout these moments, but He is the strength. He is the hope. He is my loving Father who gives me the things to look at. The good in things, in order to see that the bad things are not to harm, but to allow me to draw nearer to Him. If I keep this outlook, and know within that He will never leave me nor forsake me, I will always remain in a peaceful state. It is that choice that assures me that sometimes I have to lean not on my own understanding. I must acknowledge and observe the good with the bad. I must remain in the knowing that my path is directed by the One who holds me upright. Trusting His plans with unwavering faith, and sustaining a joyous heart through the love of His making.