1. Waiting for the Wind

Welcome to Our Boat

My husband & I have been in the mightiest struggle of our 30 + years of marriage. Our struggle is not with each other, although we’ve been at odds a time or two. This struggle is one of coming to terms with and accepting the extreme detour we never saw coming.

His Parkinson’s diagnosis combined with a sudden up-ending of his career have landed us on a path we never would have chosen. Yet, we have been taking baby steps forward to gain our footing on the slippery deck of our new normal. And as we have slowly re-gained some balance and confidence, we’re realizing there are a number of amazingly good experiences we would have missed had we not been forced in this direction.

Along this quite lengthy adjustment period, the Holy Spirit has kindly gifted us with a helpful prophetic picture of hope to steady us. The picture has become a sturdy anchor when life feels like a storm tossed sea.  What do we see in our picture, but a sailboat adrift on the sea. Perhaps Jesus will help me to use words to paint the scene.

Holy Spirit, I ask You now for help. I want to take every reader on a tour of our sailboat. Please open the imagination of each reader so that they will have the eyes of their hearts enlightened to see what You have shown us. You are so GOOD, Father. Thank You for the peace and comfort You provide each of Your children as we dream and imagine right alongside You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayers. In Jesus’ most precious name I ask, Amen!

Aboard this boat you will find my dear man & myself. I’m seated in the back on a bench while my man with the sun-tanned feet is at the front. And next to my man stands another man looking very comfortable and in-charge. 

Who is that man?

At first glimpse, the sailboat delights me. Can you see it bright and shining as it bobs upon the glassy water? It makes me smile as feelings of peace and joy wash over me like the warmth of sunshine.

I mean who wouldn’t want to be enjoying a sailboat adventure? Wouldn’t you? I see no dark storm clouds or turbulent waves in my picture. Do you?Of course not, it’s a perfect season for a sailing upon the open sea!

As I look up to watch my dear man at the front, I wonder {out loud} why we aren’t going anywhere. Immediately, the confident boatman turns toward me and speaks simple words, “I’m teaching him how to sail.”

I recognize Him. This instructor is… Jesus! 

The picture has given us words to create our personal couple language, which helps us to process our individual thoughts and feelings. We need to sort, sift and work it all through because we’ve never lived here before. Our emotions have an outlet as we imagine what it feels like to learn to sail in real time as we also recognize the feelings of being all alone adrift on the open water. Our boat is a place of hope because we see Jesus is with us. We grasp this truth; we are not alone. We are an intimate crew of three. As we watch and wait together, we realize that we are going to do this together. Jesus is our teacher, and we can see His confidence.

Thus, the sailboat becomes a shared imagery & common language by which we share honestly before the Lord and with each other. Our sailboat inspires us to hold onto hope like an anchor, which often keeps us from drifting too far into dangerous waters of doubt.

Before you begin to feel discouraged about your own detour, let me just add that we are slow learners. Our detour onto the sailboat was more than five years ago. Along the way, we’ve each had our roller coaster moments. I think my dear man would agree we’ve each experienced the full spectrum of emotions. Gratefully, one of us is usually on the upside when the other is sliding down. We’re definitely riding the crazy learning curve.

Interestingly, when we first found ourselves detoured from the life path we had chosen, we had no idea what lay ahead in 2020. However, as we take a look back we recognize God already knew. WE feel even more sure now that He was teaching us to sail while the waters were calm knowing that 2020 would bring storms.

We see the goodness of our Teacher to take us ahead for training so that we would be prepared for such a time as this. Jesus knew that many friends and family members would find themselves detoured, feeling unstable, fearful and insecure in the unfamiliar landscape. He knew that my dear man and I would be able to call out, “Hey, sailor, we’re here! You’re not alone. It’s going to be okay.”

Some of you experienced detours way before us. You were ahead of us on the learning curve and completely understand the difficulty of gaining balance and learning to wait well. We know we’re certainly not the first or last people to pass this way. Perhaps you know from experience or you have recently realized that both waiting and learning are required for a faith journey into intimacy with Jesus.

I wonder if you’ll join me for a season of pondering the detour, the boat, the training, and the waiting. Will you look with me at Jesus and some of His friends as we seek to learn from them as they trained and became useful for service in a new normal under Jesus’ confident tutelage.

Surely there’s much we can glean from their stories. Please feel free to ponder with me, ask your own questions, tell your own stories and offer your learned Godly wisdom. So, if you’re in ~ welcome aboard!

Trust is the anchor holding me in the boat

 

I imagine a crusty white-bearded fisherman searching the horizon from high above the deck, and suddenly he yells comforting words:

Two years out and all’s well!

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With the new year, my husband and I embarked on our third year of his involuntary retirement.  I have no words to describe how grateful I am (still) for his discipline to store away savings in times of abundance.  Without his ‘Joseph-like’ dedication to prepare ahead for a coming famine, I don’t know where we would be right now.

God, by His grace, had prepared our hearts for a lean time.  Through prayerful listening I felt it would be at least two years before we would experience a breakthrough. We’ve several times before traveled this road of job change and loss through buy-outs and acquisitions.  This fork in the road, however, has some additional obstacles otherwise known as age and health.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of  hope before us.  And nothing, not aging or health challenges, are too hard for God!

When I focus my eyes on Jesus, I do feel calm.  I do feel secure in His presence.  As I spend time with Jesus, in His Word and in our conversations, He assures me that we (my husband and I) are right where we are supposed to be.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of hope before us.

Yet, one moment out in the world, with all the voices and choices and recommendations from all well meaning people who care about us, and I can easily find myself – well, honestly, bothered!  Then I find myself wanting to know, “How much longer, Lord?”.

Maybe people are right. Maybe I need to do something more.  Maybe I should look for more professional employment.  Maybe I should… What if…  And the wrestling begins all over again.

I wonder… have you ever been here?  Are you now?  Well, here’s what I did…

Jesus, where are You?

I grew weary of the wrestling and spinning and the voices and the questions and doubts. Honestly, I love that place of surrender!  As difficult as it is for me to get there sometimes, it is the best feeling to drop all the baggage I’ve agreed to carry and crumple at the feet of Jesus.

Finally, submitted deep in my soul, I asked Jesus to give me His perspective – as much as my finite mind can comprehend.  I asked Him to draw me a picture of how He sees our current circumstances.

Jesus answered this request almost immediately.  I began to see, in my mind’s eye, a boat bobbing on the water.  There was no storm, no daunting waves or howling wind, and in the back of the boat I sat.  My husband was seated at the front of the boat.  We were just bobbing on the calm water.

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Yes, that’s it!  That is exactly what my life feels like right now!

However, the longer I pondered this picture in my mind, the frustration welled up inside me again.  That bothered feeling came welling up from deep within even as I sat with Jesus and His picture.  Soon I heard myself asking, “How long, O Lord, are we going to bob on this water not really going anywhere?”

This was it.  This was my life in a picture – feelings and all.  After a few days of thinking on this picture I began to see water splashing about my feet inside the boat.

Again, I picked up my conversation with Jesus.  Anxiety, fear, and frustration began to increase as I talked with Him…

Jesus there’s water coming in the bottom of the boat.  Doesn’t my husband know there’s water coming in the boat?  Are we going to sink?  Is he just going to sit in the front of the boat and let us go under?

I felt anger rising from that deep place in my soul.  I recognized the symptoms; that old ouchy place that’s been torn open once again by current circumstances.  So, I went to visit my flesh and blood Dad for advice.

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20

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Godly sorrow…

As I sat with my Dad over lunch recounting this vision of my husband and I in the boat, my dad responded with truth; “You don’t trust him to take care of you.”  The words to match the emotion had been eluding me, but when my Dad spoke it, I knew it was true.

I was ashamed to admit it.  I was afraid our boat was sinking and I didn’t trust my husband to save me.  There it was – the response I learned as a young child – fight for myself.

I confessed to my Dad (as if he didn’t know), “I’m not very good at sitting on my hands. I’m a fighter!”  My Dad grinned ear to ear and proudly confirmed, “And you’re a good one too.”  Beyond that my Dad hugged me and assured me, “God’s got this.  You’re going to be OK – eventually!”

Sunset Key LargoAs I drove home from my parents’ house I once again took the picture back to Jesus.  I told Him it was true what my Dad said, and I was sorry.  I didn’t want to feel that way about my husband.  In my spirit I felt a nudge, “Look again at the boat, Lisa.”

Oh yes!  There You are Jesus; You’re in the boat!  You’re standing right up there next to my man.  We’re not alone!

It was an amazing revelation.  And then again, in my spirit, this quiet voice – His voice coaxing me to listen and obey.  “Sit in the boat, Lisa.  Be still and watch.  Watch Me teach My man how to sail this boat.”

 An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  It is my trust in Jesus…which anchors me in the boat.

I wish I had the words to describe the incredible peace of that moment.  The presence of Jesus in the midst of our trial is priceless.  He knows us.  He is with us.  He is good and He knows what He is doing.  Jesus has a good plan for us, and He is not worried.  In fact, every once in awhile I remind Jesus,

You know water is coming in the boat still?

Jesus reminds me to look at the picture; He’s in the boat.  Jesus reminds me my trust is rightly placed in Him, and not on my husband to be my savior.  He also reminds me He’s given me a cup (my little job with my little pay), with which I am able to scoop water and throw it over the side.  Otherwise I am to be still, stay in the boat and watch.

I’m watching You; eyes on You, Jesus, as You teach my man how to sail.

anchor

Today I saw something, looking at pictures of anchors, that I’ve never recognized before.  An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  Catching this visual I hold fast to this truth:

It is my trust in Jesus (because of all the times in my life when I have experienced His faithfulness) which anchors me in the boat.

…(Jesus said)“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Mark 8:34

Ponders:

  1. How about you, friend?  Are you facing an uncertain situation?
  2. Are you able to identify any controlling emotions?
  3. Would you be willing to enter an ongoing conversation with Jesus about the inward wrestling match?
  4. Would you ask Jesus to paint a picture?  Sing you a song? Write you a poem?  What other form of communication might Jesus use to make His truth more clear to you?
  5. Proverbs 16:20 reminds us: “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”  Do you have a safe person who will offer Godly instruction?  Perhaps you will seek them out today. 
  6. Will you allow trust to be your anchor to help you obey the Lord?