The weekend was blessed with rain, after an unusual streak of many dry and sunny months. Seattle was about to lose its tourism attraction and the anxiety over the risk of becoming just like every other liberal, crime-infested, climate-obsessed mecca was palpable. But then it rained. Houston, we are done wetting our pants, because everything else is now wet.
But at Feodora, October rains are not about mildewy street cred. They are about salmon fishing. The Beloved is the Right Kind of Fisherman. He is the kind who loves to teach non-fishers to love sitting by water, who gets his kicks out of being in awe, being outdoors, delights in the stories and the banter. He is endlessly patient with those of us who don’t take to it like a fish to… never mind. Suddenly that sounds kind of insensitive.
I should know. Our first “date” was a fishing trip to a place past my parents’ farm called the Honey Hole. To properly demonstrate the patience of this young fisherman (well, then young. I’ve given him a generous share of grey threads since then, and if you have read more than one post, that probably isn’t hard to imagine) — I wore sandals. And he just smiled. We spent hours in his green canoe while he taught me how to cast and generously cheered as I caught piles of blue gill, many of whom I proceeded to kill by taking such a long time getting them detached from the hook. I was determined not to seem wimpy or girly in the wrong ways (the sandals were not helping me in my crusade), so despite disliking the feel of hyperventilating pond creature in my hands, I continued to grab hold and try to work the hook out. Man, every single paragraph is turning dark… well, anyway, he married me despite all this.
And now, when fall rains come, the Quail scurry about, asking me every 5 minutes or so, when Daddy is coming to take them salmon fishing. He is all of a sudden more quoted than the Dalai Lama —
“Daddy says the best fishing is right after it rains!”
“Daddy says when the sun comes out, he might take us fishing!”
“Daddy says we might need to miss naps today to go get a salmon!”
“Daddy says pink salmon eat their own children!”
That’s true, by the way. I looked it up.
And because he truly is a prince among men, he did in fact find both a break in the rain and a break in the busiest time of year on the farm in order to come by, help them into closed toed shoes (you can’t say I never learn anything), and line their pockets with snacks before taking them out to catch Mommy a salmon. They were ecstatic.
The rain held off, but the salmon were apparently in one of those unfortunate moods where they think it is funny to thumb their noses (no small feat when you have no thumbs) and flip their tails at eager children and their fishing poles and an hour and a half later, it was a muddy, tired, discouraged brood that flopped through the door. All except the Beloved. He smiled… because he is patient, but also because he knows. He knows the first fishing trip is like this; it is the one where expectation and anticipation meet reality. The next time he takes them out, and he will graciously make sure it is soon, moods will be more tempered, urgency will be lessened, and they will laugh off the antics of the dinner they are not catching. They will enjoy the sights, the sounds, the full experience of that blissful hour with Daddy — they will be prepared.
I got word last week of an engagement about to take place (what uncomfortable fun to be in the know before a thing happens!), and I was struck with the complex feelings that tumbled about my mind, like so many socks in a dryer. I am so excited for this huge life transformation for someone I love dearly. And I cannot help thinking she has absolutely no idea what she is getting into… and that is not bad. I’m not sure any of us would get married if we actually understood that what we were signing up for was nothing less than a round-the-clock spiritual pumice stone, wearing off our selfishness and our sin, remaking us into the image of Christ — that such a process is both effective and painful.
As a young bride, I would have said, absolutely! I know that is what I am getting, and I get to have sex at the same time! AWESOME!
Yeah. I was not naive…
Don’t misunderstand me (you know that is my kryptonite): I am not bah humbugging marriage. Far from it. The best things about my life are wrapped up in my marriage, and in the specific person I am married to — I have never been more seen, more loved, more challenged, have never laughed harder or wept with greater abandon. The Beloved is my match in every possible way. It is a phenomenal design, a gift from God. That is why we cannot be truly “prepared” for it… we always underestimate His gifts.
But that inherent unpreparedness (which in and of itself, is a kindness — if we actually knew how much pain we were going to feel, would we be able to go down the aisle? The excitement is appropriate. The bridal blinders are a gift and not for us to try and take off) brings the key issue into sharper focus: the only way to walk forward and receive God’s gifts, any of His gifts, is to trust the Giver, not your own comprehension of the gift. He doesn’t change, so everything else can. He is your Rock, so it is ok to find yourself in a storm you weren’t prepared to face. You can fling yourself headlong into every opportunity, every adventure, every pumice stone if your faith is grounded in Jesus.
And you should.
You should because the Lord God, Creator of the Universe, delights to give you the gifts you seek, the ones you beg Him for, and then to make them bigger and harder and more beautiful than you knew to ask for, and then He takes you further in, further up and gives you more — He gives you the cosmically insignificant gifts you wanted so badly and uses them to open your eyes to the true Gift He wants you to hold dear. He is the Gift, not only cosmically significant, but in fact the One who spoke the cosmos into being and yet still has an interest in the kink in your neck that you woke up with today, or the misunderstanding you had with your spouse over breakfast. Trust Him… and receive His gifts without understanding, and without fear.
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