I was having one of those days where I was questioning my spiritual influence in this season of my life, wondering if I was having as much impact on people as I once had.
Years prior I could pin-point the things I was doing for God that might be considered inspirationally impacting. At the time, my kids were young and we were involved with different activities through church, work, school and sports and therefore I had a large circle of influence. I was busy serving God by carrying for my husband and children, while writing faith-filled books, articles and newsletters. I also regularly spoke at ladies Bible studies and would share how God was working in every day life. I pursued my purpose with passion, and often did so by keeping up with the hectic pace of society but I felt my service for God was useful and significant.
But what that was then and this is now. My kids are older, life is less chaotic, my sphere of influence has dwindled as people have moved away, grown up, changed jobs or have just become busy with life. Of course I know I am still useful to my growing family and to a much smaller circle but I don’t feel that I can pin-point specific things I’m doing for God in the same way as I use to and a times it makes me feel a little unsure.
All of this was weighing on my mind recently when we went on an overnight camping trip and stayed in a small cabin that overlooked a man-made lake. In the morning before anyone else got up I decided I wanted to do a little fishing so I poured myself a hot cup of coffee, grabbed a chair, a devotional, my fishing pole, and container filled with worms and headed to the lake.
A beautiful morning midst hovered over the water as the sun slowly began to rise. Crickets creaked and birds chirped as I set out my chair and prepared my fishing pole. With hook, weight and worm ready, I cast my line out to the center of the lake reeling it in just enough to keep the line taught so I would be able to feel even the slightest nibble or tug should a fish catch my worm.
It wasn’t hard to get in tuned with God as I read my devotion lakeside and sipped on my coffee and as I spent time reflecting, I began to voice my concerns to God in prayer. What type of spiritual influence do I have in this season of my life, God? How can I best serve you now? Or did my service peak years ago? Can I still have a ministry of encouragement and spiritual impact even though I have no desire to rush around at a hectic pace as I once did?
For nearly thirty minutes I sat there, thinking, reflecting, posing questions, dumping it all out before God. Can you still use me to make a difference God?
After awhile I took a break from all my pondering and then realized that my fishing pole hadn’t budged one bit since casting it out and it might be a good idea to check the status of the bait.
I lazily began reeling in my line and for a moment I thought I felt the tiniest of tugs. I paused to see if I had a bite but there was no movement at all. Again I began slowly reeling in my line and once again felt the faintest pull. I paused once again and waited. Still nothing.
Now anytime I’ve gone fishing in the past and had a bite the fish, whether big or small, always let me know he was there by the pulling, tugging but there was none of that but when I finally reeled my line all the way in and pulled my pole up, I was surprised to find a nice size catfish tangling on the end of my line.
I have a fish? I said out loud and at that moment God brought an instant clarity to my earlier concerns.
I had a fish on my line and didn’t even know it because I didn’t see or feel the normal tugging and pulling yet beneath the water things were happening. Just because I don’t see the influence I have the way I maybe once did, and just because I can’t label or pin-point what I “do” doesn’t mean things aren’t happening.
My sphere of influence may seem smaller now but the size of influence has always been God’s choosing not mine. I suddenly realized that we don’t really have to pin-point what we “do” for God, we just simply have to be willing to show up every day with a heart for God and a heart for others and He’ll lead the way. In that moment with the fish still dangling, I knew that If nothing else, I can show up.
I suppose the irony of it all is that after catching the fish, I released him. Nonetheless, I will forever remember the revelation. We don’t always know how we impact others. God doesn’t call us to be fishers of men only in certain seasons, it’s a life-time calling. He will always bring fish on line whether we see it or not, we just need to keep showing up with heart for Him and a heart others and trust Him to lead the way.