I’ve been deep sea fishing, but only once. That’s all I need.
One morning several years ago, two friends and I got on board a small boat in the Gulf of Mexico and headed out with the promise of “big fish.” I’m not sure how far we went, but it was far enough to where the land was no longer visible, and that’s when we baited our lines and threw them in the water. It only took about 15 minutes for me to get a bite, feel the exhilaration of fighting with what must have been a sizable fish on the other side, and reel in the biggest fish I’d ever caught.
It only took another 5 minutes for me to start throwing up. The constant rocking of the small boat, the smell of the fish, the heat of the sun – and I spent the next several hours alternating between laying on my back and leaning over the side. The only relief I was able to get during that day was by taking the advice of the boat owner. He told me that I needed to find a fixed point on the horizon, and focus on that. By focusing on something solid and stable, you can get your equilibrium under control, and despite the constant motion around you, actually feel normal.
I’ve thought about that day and what he told me many times over the years, though most of the times when his advice has come to mind had little to do with fishing. Instead, I’ve thought about his words during turbulent “life” times. When everything went upside down. When circumstances were out of control. When what I thought was certain suddenly was not.
Francis Schaeffer once wrote that God is the only sufficient reference point for life, and that, too, makes me think of the day on the gulf.
The first four words of the Bible are these: “In the beginning, God…” Though only four words, there is incredible truth packed into them. We learn, for example, that because there was a beginning, there was also a Beginner. These first four words actually give name to the “Beginner” in question. God. He was not part of the beginning; He existed outside of and prior to the beginning of everything else. And if that’s true, then He has power and authority over everything that comes next. He is not bound by the constraints set up in “the beginning” for He is apart from it.
It’s interesting to note what doesn’t appear in those first four words: You. Me. None of us. Only God. That’s because God is the main character. Everything revolves around Him. He is the reference point on the horizon; the one thing that makes everything else make sense. And apart from that fixed point, we will constantly be in a state of tossing and turning, of ebb and flow.
So this is what we do when everything is in motion around us. This is what we do when the core of our equilibrium is upset. We find the fixed reference point, and focus our eyes there.
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