he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
"I caught a fish!" Her voice rose effervescently like bubbles in a soda. In her case, red cream soda, sweet, with a single note of vanilla. Uncomplicated. Like my daughter.
"I caught a fish, Mom!" She couldn't contain her excitement, bouncing up and down on the cushion of the pontoon sofa.
Here's the thing.
The fish was caught on the rod that my husband bought for her. The rod I set up with hook, and weights, and a red-and-white bobber. Not to mention a big, fat Canadian nightcrawler. It was caught while she was on the seat at the back of the boat eating lunch.
There is theology in this. Beside the symbolism of fishing.
She couldn't have been prouder as she watched me reel in her fish. On the line I had cast out, in a first effort to teach her to fish with us. Really, she was eating lunch. Really it was my fish. In my universe.
But in her universe, what was caught on her rod was hers and really, she couldn't have been more excited if she had set the hook and reeled the fish in herself. I know, because later, she actually did hook and reel in a fish, a little panfish, like the one I caught on her rod. And she was just as excited, equally thrilled, to do it herself as to see me do it with her pole. They were both her fish. And she didn't even mind when I unhooked them and tossed them right back into the river. They were, after all, too small to keep.
"Catch and release," I told her. Feeding new language into her life, preparing her for more boat trips, more fishing, more success.
It started this morning when my husband and I, drinking coffee in the office, were discussing our plans for the day. We were deciding where to take the boat, how long we'd be out, whether or not to take the dog. Sierra came down rubbing sleep from her eyes, moving in slow motion the way she does before her coffee. She walked to each of us for a morning hug and then into the kitchen to pour that cup of wake-up. Apparently her ears were on fine-tune mode despite the sleepy appearance. She brought her coffee to the desk, pulled up her chair, sat down, and proceeded to join our discussion.
"I not go." This in her no-nonsense voice.
"Sure you'll go," I brightened my voice, trying to convince her with my enthusiasm.
"I am twenty-four years old." Her comeback was to remind me that she is a young woman with Down syndrome, capable of making her own decisions.
My husband looked at me over his cup of coffee. Smiling because he knew what she was saying, without words. He knew the second, unsaid part of her statement, the invisible part.
"Yes, you are twenty-four years old. And you're going fishing with us today. You like the boat. Make sure to pack your books and ipad." This is a redirect. The fishing isn't a choice, but what she brings with her is...
She moved to her favorite spot on the sofa at the mention of her ipad. It was time to catch up on Facebook. My favorite army guy and I continued talking about where and when and what for the day.
Voice from the sofa: "I can not go fishing on the boat. I do not have it, my fishing pole." Exact words, no kidding.
OK, this stopped our conversation cold. See, the backstory is, a couple of days ago we went fishing, and my husband dropped Sierra's pole while he was setting it up for Sierra to use. Well, yes, it dropped right off the side of the boat and we all watched as the bobber disappeared. Pole gone. Big oops. It happens.
But, what doesn't always happen, is Sierra's increasing sophistication in communicating. Two complete sentences with a plausible argument. Umm, wow.
So, we added 'new pole for Sierra' to our list of items we needed before our trip. She packed her own backpack so she'd have something to do with downtime. And we went fishing.
"I am fishing, Mom." This said from my colorful daughter, sitting on the edge of her seat, holding a pole with great tenderness and trepidation, eyes and attention focused on watching the red and white bobber floating. Right next to the boat. Lots of scaffolding, lots of help to promote her success in this new endeavor. Lots of encouragement, lots of repetition, lots of redirect.
There is theology in this.
Christianity is really simple sometimes. It's all about a sovereign God, keyword God, who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent. It is all about this sovereign God who made us in his image, gave us free will, and then continued to love us even when our choices went awry. Even when our choices led us away from him. It is all about the gift this sovereign God gave to us, the gift of himself, really, wholly God, yet willing to take on our own flesh in the form of his son Jesus, in order to redeem us to him. Because he loved us so much. Love that surpasses knowledge. It is all about the fact that God didn't create us to be alone, to stand solitary, to take on the world by ourselves. It is all about the fact that, through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, we have God in us - we have Godstrength, Godlove, Godforgiveness, Godcompassion, Godenthusiasm in us. We are filled to the measure with all of the fullness of God. Amazing.
I picture God in my life, working out the scaffolding, the support, the encouragement. I picture him sometimes a little impatient with the repetition, but infinitely patient bringing about result. I picture him managing the redirect. All for his plan. And that plan surrounds us. Always.
"I caught a fish."
Thank you for your love.
Thank you for your Son, Jesus.
Thank you for this life that is so full of You - your love, your strength, your wisdom.
Thank you for living parables, and for unexpected teachings.
Thank you for grace unimagined.
Linking with Spiritual Sundays, Sunday Stillness, The Sunday Community
Monday's Musings, Tell Me a True Story, RaRaLinkup
Monday's Musings, Tell Me a True Story, RaRaLinkup