He watched with amusement as the older gentleman made his way into the icy waters. It was difficult to avoid noticing that the man’s gear, not to mention the man, seemed a bit outdated. Regardless, he turned his attention to his own frustrating endeavor. He had been casting all morning and had not even had one strike. It felt as if the trout were in another body of water altogether.
He had taken the time to prepare, availing himself of step by step lessons on the power of a good cast, and the ideal fly for the season and the river he was in. He was prepared, and frustrated. For this reason it was all the more frustrating when the older man almost immediately had a strike and reeled in a healthy sized trout.
“The one fish in this bend”, he muttered to himself, “and the old man stumbled into it.”
He again noted that the man’s rod and reel were hardly the newest, and it seemed that perhaps he even had the wrong fly. And he noted these things as the man got his second strike, and his second healthy trout. It was only minutes later he watched the man get his third.
His own luck had not changed, in spite of all the most modern gear, and his picture perfect cast.
He watched a few more times, and could stand it no longer. He waded toward the old man and asked with a forced grin, “Okay I give, what’s your secret?”
“Well, it’s certainly not my gear,” the man said with a wry smile.
“The key is that you have to watch the water, so you can know what’s going on below the surface,” he said, “ and then cast where the hungry fish are.”
“You can tell that just by watching the water?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” the man replied,” you just have to learn to see what’s under the water.”
Seeing the unseen. This is the territory of the church. This is the key to weathering the storm ahead. More than weathering the storm, this is the key to emerging on the other side with Goliath’s head in our hands.
While we have responded to the times by strengthening our leadership models and becoming strategic at a global level, all of our new gear is only beneficial if we can see what’s under the water. Or more accurately, on the other side of the veil.
The church, we so often say, is the hope of the world. So in our zeal, we prepare the church. We let the corporate giants and the global gurus re-shape our philosophies and our leadership skills and paradigms. I am grateful for the churches willingness to learn, and to learn from any source of wisdom available.
The dilemma is, however, we the church, and only we the church, plant our feet on both sides of the veil. With a foot in the visible realm, and a foot in the invisible, we digest the powerful leadership models of the visible. But who will tell us about the invisible?
“Only I have been both in heaven and on the earth,” Jesus tells Nicodemus, “and you will not believe me about earth-stuff, how will you possibly believe me about heaven-stuff?”
Nobody but the church will stake their claim as citizens of the invisible, seated in heavenly places. No Fortune 500 company, no leadership institute, no wildly successful agency can even acknowledge, much less teach us about how to know what’s “under the water.”
In this next season, if heaven is to enter earth, if God is going to transform the planet through us, we must learn how to read the water.
Like our fishermen whose success was not in his skill, but in his understanding and ability to navigate the intersection between what he could see, and what he could not see, we too must learn how to navigate the intersection between the seen and the unseen.
If the church is going to lead the restoration of the creation, we must learn to Think Differently. With a foot planted firmly on each side of the veil, we must learn how to navigate, and lead others to navigate the intersection between the visible and the invisible.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.