Monday, March 3, 2008

The Picture -- Hope Chronicles 22

I don't know how long it had hung there. But it was there during my student days with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and then my 11 year tenure on staff. My guess is, though I haven't been back in years to check, is that it still rests on the wall in the stairwell at InterVarsity's Cedar Campus. Even though it was a simple charcoal sketch, it never failed to catch my eye and my heart.

It was sketched in black on white paper -- a picture of the sea. You could see above the water and below the water. The artist had drawn the bottom of the sea littered with an inner tube and bit of trash and debris. But the heart clincher for me was a simple sign, slightly askew, in the bottom right hand corner. It simply read, "No Fishing."

In that simple picture, the artist caught the condition of the human soul in two ways. First, he noted that our sins have been cast into the sea. Micah 7:19 says, "He will again have compassion on us. And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all ours sins into the depths of the seas." Notice that God doesn't say that he hurls them into a shallow creek. He casts them into the deepest seas. If we are in Christ, our sins are no more. They have been hurled away by God and buried in the depths.

Secondly, the sign points to our second propensity. Sometimes, we cannot leave well enough alone. Instead, we dig out the fishing gear and sling our poles over our shoulders and head out to the open water. Once there, we fish and fish and fish until we catch something on our hooks. With all the persistence of a seasoned fisherman, we refuse go home empty handed.

Why do we do that? It's not like we really want the rubbish off the bottom of the sea. If anything, it is a burden -- once discarded -- that we pick up again. God cast it there with good reason. He knows that we have been redeemed, that we aren't who we once were. But we go fishing because at some level we doubt that fact. We fear that the sin we confessed isn't really wiped away. We fail to trust the one who freed us from that sin. In doing so, we stifle hope.

I'm not saying that we should never look at our past. Our past informs our present. However, if I just looked at my past with human eyes, my heart would be so heavy I would never manage to struggle out of bed. The sins, the abuse, the pride, . . . would weigh me down so I couldn't move.

Rather, when we look at the past, we need to play close attention to the camera angle. Is it focused on us and our sin or is it focused on the God who redeemed us? Some of the pieces may sound similar in each story, but in reality they are vastly different. One is a picture of despair. The other is a picture of hope.

If you feel the need to look at the past, check the camera angle closely and always let God take center stage. That is where we will find hope in the past, present, and future.

When you find yourself wanting to go fishing, heed this simple sign. It will make all the difference in the world.

1 comment:

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Amen! I'm putting up a "No Fishing" sign right here in my heart!