Paddling together in the ocean, each in a 48-inch color-whirl inner-tube, not too far from shore but away from the busyness of children playing – we floated. My husband kept me anchored, ensuring I didn’t bob off into international waters. While everyone else played, we saw dolphins jumping high out of the water.
Looking down into the water, I was startled to see 3 pairs of eyes looking at me – eyes belonging to 3 grey-sand-colored looking fish trimmed in yellow. Other fish nipped at my heals dipped in the water. Minutes later, little bee-like stings caused me to yank those heals out of the water.
Oddly, nothing stung my human anchor. Except for the little stings, our late morning paddles in the ocean were a treasure.
The last morning, though, my husband had a business call to take, so I pulled myself out into the ocean, past the busyness of play, beyond the sandbar, past a fisherman, and another studying the waters net in hand. I looked down – and there was my little grey-looking fish friend, trimmed in yellow, seemingly escorting me. As I settled into my last holiday ocean bob, the stings started gain but were much more intense, circling ankle and all over my feet. This time, it didn’t stop.
There I was bobbing out in the ocean, feet pulled to the top of the inner tube – which was really challenging because that’s where much of the rest of me was.
I asked the man with the net, “What’s stinging me?”
“Jelly fish,” he answsered. “They’ve been here all week, but today they’re worse.” He walked over to show me one he’d just caught. “There’s one with a 4-foot diameter behind the gate,” he said.
There, in the little net, was a jelly-fish, resembling a clear round lunch-baggy filled with water .
I could have frumped out of the ocean, my reverie interrupted, bewailed the stinging and the unfairness of it all – I do love bobbing about in the ocean on an inner-tube. I could have whined that my knight in shining armor wasn’t there to protect me.
I didn’t, though those jelly fish changed my routine, changed the course of my day and sent me off doing other things.
I’m starting to understand that sometimes life’s little stings, like little mother pinches urging to “get a move on” are designed to move us from one place to another – not necessarily physically but spiritually.
I shouldn’t be surprised that when God does a new thing in our lives (Isaiah 43:18-21) – that these new things are often preceded by emotional or physical discomfort – think of childbirth.
Think of how different the life of the rich young man if he hadn’t walked away from the sting of exchanging worldly riches for eternal life.
Saul experienced a stinging prelude to change before he was transformed to Paul.
The crippled man was willing to accept the sting of a potential fall by attempting to stand in faith.
The woman with the issue of blood risked the sting of rejection to be healed.
The apostles risked the sting of their family’s judgement about their responsibilities in making the seismic decision to leave their nets(jobs) and follow Jesus.
Esther experienced the sting of change, moving from her community to the palace, not realizing the change would save her community.
Naomi and Ruth’s stinging loss of their spouses, propelled them on a journey that not only would find them both fulfilled but become part of the geneology that would fulfill God’s plan of salvation.
Mary risked the sting of stoning when she told the angel, “Yes.”
It is in the aftermath of the sting, that change manifests – and it is the behavior in that aftermath that affects not just the journey of that change but result of that change.
Think of how the sting of infertility brought Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah closer to the Father, though sometimes their choices complicated the journey to the sting’s intended result.
Think how different the sting of responsibility would have been for Samson had his choices in the journey been different. Yes, Samson fulfilled God’s plan for his life – though his choices affected the journey to fulfill that plan.
That day as I bobbed on the ocean in the midst of a school of jelly fish, the Father was trying to tell me something – to tell me sometimes in order to create His changes, to shepherd us in His direction, to move us closer to His plan’s path, that sometimes I need to change. Those changes might be inside heart-changes or out-side changes.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2)
That day in the ocean, instead of fussing about physical fish-stings, I knew I needed to look for the message – and once I translated the message, I readied myself for upcoming change.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16))
There have been changes, both relatively immediate and on the horizon. I am praying for guidance on these journey changes – hoping that my choices do not negatively affect that journey.
Maybe one day, I will not need the sting to make the changes God wants in my life. However, right now, I would rather have them to shepherd me to God-change than to remain un-changed, un-shaped, un-transformed.
808) laundry folded
809) reading The Hobbit with my youngest son
810) who went off to read it by himself and returned totally amused and detailing the introduction of each dwarf and hood color – all this from a little boy who does not like chapter books.
811) when a day stretches and there is more than enough time for all things big and small
812) an answered prayer unfolding
813) the hope in that answered prayer of a future restored
814) peace, rising up in my home, an ahhhh, soaking-kind of peace
815) the energy to make my special hot chocolate and surprise the boys
816) smiles, one by one, son by son
817) squirrels scampering across the outside of my window
818) clear blue skies on a Saturday morning – touching flaming yellows, red and orange leaves to bring joy in a 3 hour ride
819) the marching band playing in the afternoons when I leave work
820) every day with my husband, his strength, faithfulness and sense of humor
821) holding grandbaby girl for 10 minutes
822) listening to my mom talk about how God protected her when she fell leaving church
823) leaves that swirled, dipped and danced, in a teasing wind on my ride home from work
824) tomatoe still from my garden on a grilled hamburger
825) zinnias still blooming
826) people that live kindness in so many different ways that touch my life each week – a smile walking down a hallway, a knitted gift, a hug at church, grandfather words for my sons from a dear friend at church