Waiting for the Tug

by Andy Wood on September 14, 2011

in Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Photos, Principle of Freedom, Waiting


Had coffee with a sweet friend last week.  She was describing the amazing things the Lord has worked in her life over the summer as she has gone through a wonderfully painful, gloriously gut-wrenching season.  Each day the Lord has brought new strength, insights, healing, and refreshing as she prepares for a future that is far less certain… but far more peaceful.

Did you get that?

Far less certain, but far more peaceful.

Like many people, she had defined peace and satisfaction in terms of being able to predict what the future held (among other things).  Now as she returns to school, she heads off into an unknown destiny, with lots of uncertainties.  But she has a phenomenal peace that she is being held right in the center of God’s heart and hand.

Here’s how she expressed it to me.  I was so touched, I wanted to share it with you (my paraphrase):

I feel like I’m fishing, and I have cast out my line, and it has gone beneath the surface of the water.  And I can’t see what’s going on underneath.  But I am at peace knowing that all I have to do is wait for the tug. It isn’t my job to know what’s going on.  It’s my job to wait, then to spring into action when I feel the tug.

I’ve been thinking about that for nearly a week now.  How liberating!  How rejuvenating.  How instructive.  Keeping the fishing metaphor going…

Lesson:  While you’re waiting for the tug, you can’t see that there is a lot of teeming life moving back and forth in the water, even though everything on the surface looks calm and still.  In the same way, most of the fulfillment of God’s destiny for our lives involves a lot of moving parts – far more than you could ever dream of controlling or even accounting for.

Lesson:  You won’t get the tug any faster by jumping in the water and imitating the fish.  Nor will you get it any faster by sitting on the dock and hollering “Y’all come!” to them and expecting them to jump into your lap.  In the same way, as we position ourselves to receive and follow God’s direction there are ways to position ourselves and prepare ourselves.  But charging the world like an idiot or idly sitting and doing nothing is not the way.

Lesson:  Bait the hook!  As mentioned above, there are ways to position yourself to receive God’s direction.  And there are ways to position yourself for disappointment.  For example, God still resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  He gives generously and without hesitation to the one who asks for wisdom, so long as the asking is done with an unwavering faith (James 1:6-8).  He answers the prayer of the one who asks with pure motives, but not for the one who seeks to consume the answers on him- or herself (James 4:3).

Lesson: Waiting time is not wasted time if you ultimately receive a tug.  Waiting means more than sitting around counting the pine cones.  If fact, waiting is not passive at all.  In a spiritual sense it means giving God your undivided attention – ready for the first sign of His direction or the first sound of His voice.  You can do this and still go to class, complete that work project, or manage your team.  Side analogy:  Some of the most active people on the planet are called “waiters.”  They never stop moving.  But what makes them “waiters” is the undivided attention they give their customers.

Lesson:  Not every tug is a fish.  Could be a limb or an old paint can.  I’ll never forget the time Mamma was fishing up at the family farm, in the pond no less, and caught an eel.  Scared the hooey out of her.  And it didn’t leave the eel all that pleased.  1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  When you get the tug use a little discernment.  Okay, maybe a lot of discernment.

Lesson:  When you feel the tug, it’s time to spring into action.  This is no time for negotiation.  It certainly isn’t time to send an I.O.U. to the fish.  This is time to grab the rod and pull.  In the same sense, the Holy Spirit is looking for instant, total obedience to His promptings.  This may look very simple and benign.  Or it may look monumental and earth-shattering.

One last observation.  Feeling the tug is a learned art.  At first sometimes God has to spell it out for us, and feeling the tug is more like enduring the yank.  But over time, as we learn to discern His voice and leading, then He can speak ever-so-quietly and lead ever-so-gently and we start hearing gentle whispers and still, small voices.

I don’t know what kind of season you’re in right now.  Maybe everything is clearly laid out in front of you and you see all the moving parts.  If so, give thanks and file this away for later.  (You will need it sooner or later.)

On the other hand, maybe you’re living with a lot of uncertainty, disappointment, or dark water.  I get it.  Could I leave you with one encouragement?

You’ll never feel the tug until you’re willing to cast your all in the water.  For a believer that means letting go completely of your plans and schemes, your methods and your control, and completely trusting the leadership of your life to the Lord.  And when you do (here’s where the fishing analogy breaks down a little), you’ll discover that you’re not sitting on the dock by yourself.  Even in the waiting seasons, you have a Faithful and True Companion who delights in sharing your day, hearing your voice, splashing in the water a little, and even singing over you.

You’ll feel the tug soon enough.  But what you’ll remember most is that during your waiting season, you never waited alone.

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