By Ryan Borowicz
This past weekend we had our annual Father/Child Camping Trip that we do every September. It’s a great weekend of dads hanging out with their kids at one of our beautiful state parks in Wisconsin. I buy all of the food, firewood, and cooking stuff and each guy signs up for one shift of cooking (we cook four meals), and the rest just relax and play with their kids. We had kids ranging from age 4 to 21, and a total of about 60 kids. On Sunday morning before breakfast, we all grab our coffee or hot chocolate and gather around the campfire for a church service. Then it’s pack up time and back to our busy lives.
So here it was, Saturday afternoon, and the message I had prepared for the church service on Sunday just wasn’t feeling like it was what God wanted me to share. So I went out to a local trout stream Saturday afternoon, and asked God as I was leaving the truck to trek to the stream through the woods and fields, “God, what do you have for me?” I opened my heart and just listened for what he was going to say. I continued walking and got to the Pine River. The Pine is a maddeningly clear little sandy bottomed stream that I have never caught a trout out of before in my previous 3-4 excursions there. The water is clear as could be, and the trout that are rumored to be in there hide all day under the undercut banks and seemingly only come out at night or when I’m not around.
So I got to the bank and immediately thought to myself, “I should turn around and get back in the car and head north 30 minutes to the Tomorrow River.” Earlier that morning, I had a great outing on the Tomorrow, a river I also usually never catch trout on, and I figured if I did well this morning, I could hurry up and get to the other spot that I knew I would have a decent shot at catching a fish. I had caught and released 5 fish this morning, so surely I would catch a few this afternoon with more bugs hatching and the trout looking up. But that’s when God showed up…not long after I asked him to. Right in front of me, a trout rose and sipped a fly off the glassy surface. For a fly fisherman, seeing a trout rise is about the coolest thing there is, next to feeling him on the other end of your rod. Usually, when I am scoping out a river and I see a fish rise, it sets in motion a flurry of activity that includes getting into the best position for a cast, tying on the right fly, working out the right amount of line, and blowing the whole thing by tripping on a rock and falling in the water, spooking ever fish for a half mile. Well…like I said, God showed up. What I mean by that is that the first thing that popped into my mind after that fish swallowed up that mayfly was, “Be still…”
“Be still and know that I am God,” is a simple verse, and one that is so applicable to our busy lives. Whether you’re in sports ministry or whatever line of work you are in, the first answer you get from most people when you ask how they are doing is, “Busy!” And sometimes, we can’t help being busy. But other times, we can help it. I have mentioned this before on this blog, but every year I do nothing in October and November. That’s right…nothing. Actually, I’m exaggerating a little, but basically I use those two months to reflect on what we have been doing (especially our busy season of May-September), plan for next year, and clean up the messes I’ve left in our storage shed. I’m fortunate that I am able to do this, but it’s also intentional, as I purposely do not schedule events during this time. Anyway…back to the Pine River…
So instead of jumping in the truck, rushing 30 minutes away to a spot that may have another fisherman in it, and then being ticked the rest of the night that I left the Pine, I decided to listen to God and ‘Be still.’ I sat there for five minutes soaking in the gorgeous September afternoon, the chill in the air, the flow of the stream, and the knowledge that He is God. I proceeded to have a wonderful afternoon casting everything in my box to these ghostly fish and not catching a one of them. How could it be a wonderful afternoon of not catching anything you ask??? Catching the voice of God telling me to ‘Be still’ was the catch of the day.
The next morning I shared that story and message with the group around the campfire. I shared with them that sometimes the best decision is to be still, and not rush from one thing in life to the next (or from one stream to the next). Sometimes the best decision is to listen for what God wants to teach you through your circumstances. On the stream, I didn’t catch any trout that afternoon. And in life, we may be following the voice of God and things still don’t work out the way WE wanted them to. But a constant reminder to ourselves that HE is God, and that WE are not, often puts things back into perspective. And the best way to hear from Him is often to just…Be Still.