“Nobody is a fish taboo…”
“Nobody is a fish taboo…”
On Sunday night my family and I returned home from a weekend visit to a town on Vancouver Island where we had some meetings and worshipped with a small group of people desiring to plant a church in their town. They are looking for a church planter / pastor. I am a pastor looking for an opportunity to plant a church. So we had lots to talk about. By way of follow-up, we scheduled a meeting with the pastor of a larger local church to discuss opportunities for partnering in a planting work for Wednesday afternoon.
On Monday morning we (Daniel, Bethany and I) hugged and kissed Heather and Josiah goodbye as we dropped them off at the Vancouver International Airport where they caught a flight to Palm Springs for some vacation time with Grandpa and Grandma.
Tuesday morning I met with a friend from my denomination to discuss the weekend and seek his advice on my thoughts as we take cautious steps forward. I arrived back home, after doing some banking and other errands, mid-afternoon and joined my kids in some X-Box. I lost as usual. Little lessons in humility. Then the phone rang. It was one of the group leaders from the potential church-plant core group on Vancouver Island asking if I had heard about the sailing warnings for BC Ferries for Wednesday (I was planning on catching a morning sailing to arrive in time for our afternoon meeting). He informed me that there were wind-warnings posted and possible sailing cancellations all day Wednesday. In order to still make it in time for our meeting, would I consider catching a boat over tonight instead?
I hung up the phone; looked at my watch. It was around 3:30. “Daniel, Bethany, pack a bag each, I’ll phone Aunty Shannie and see if you can stay overnight there. I need to go over to the Island tonight instead of tomorrow and we don’t have much time if I want to catch the ferry.” I phoned my sister—she said she would be glad to have the kids over (and the dog could come too). And we rushed. Focused frenzy is a good way to describe the next few minutes as we loaded up the van and took off for Mission, where my sister lives, to drop off the kids and the dog. Mission is 65km from where we live, in the opposite direction from the BC Ferry terminal. Mission to the terminal in Tsawwassen is about 90km. I made it to the ferry with 10 minutes to spare and a near-empty gas tank. Then I calmly boarded the ferry.
While I was on the Island, the same windstorm that caused the ferry cancellations on Wednesday also knocked out the power at my sister’s place for an hour or two in the afternoon. During that entire time, the security system in her house beeped its protests as its battery reserves ran low. With low battery power, the kids told me it was hard to make out what the security system computer voice was saying in its persistent warning. Every three minutes or so everyone in the house heard the urgent, automated announcement that sounded to them like, “Nobody is a fish taboo!”
In my busyness, in my rushing around, and in my stress over prolonged unemployment, I’ve been trying to discern God’s leading for myself and my family, but the best I’ve been able to make out isn’t any clearer than, “Nobody is a fish taboo!” My sister gave me some good advice (in addition to two cups of coffee) when I picked up the kids on Thursday morning: She told me to welcome the struggles and hardships that stress me out, and in them, to grab hold of Jesus. And she told me to pray. So I’m asking for you who read this (yes, both of you!) to join us in prayer to hear God’s voice clearly. I know this means I’m going to have to make myself slow down and listen to God as I seek His face, attend to His Word and… wait on Him. Ouch. I don’t want to wait any longer. But I also know I need to follow God’s will, not my own. And so I need better than, “Nobody is a fish taboo!” I am praying for peace in the decision we soon must make. I am praying for discernment and wisdom. I am praying for conviction and specific calling from the Holy Spirit. But most of all, I am praying that I will cling to Jesus—that He will satisfy my soul. Jesus must be first in my heart if I am to be free of the tyranny of the urgent.
On the drive to Mission, Thursday morning, I listened to Psalm 71-86. One section in particular jumped out at me on the same theme as I’ve been talking about:
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalm 86:11-12 ESV)
For David, the psalmist, walking in God’s way, in God’s truth, required a heart that was “united… to fear [God’s] name”, a “whole heart” to give thanks and praise to God alone. Not frenzied attention to many stressors, to the urgent tyrants whose many voices drown out the still, small voice of God in our ears. Prayer calls for waiting on God with singular focus and attention. When He answers our prayer, our reward is vastly greater than the thing that drove us to pray in the first place. Because the reward for waiting on God is to say with David, “…And I will glorify your name forever.”