I haven’t written much lately and there’s an embarrassing reason for that.
I am typing this one-handed, woefully slowly. On a related note, and as my mother will attest, I hate fish sticks.
When I was a kid, every once in awhile Mom would make fish sticks with tartar sauce for herself and my sister, Val. (I always remember this meal being just the three of us so I suspect Dad didn’t like fish sticks either, and Mom waited until he was gone some evening playing a concert or directing a musical so she could serve them on the sly.)
I think Mom always hoped I would come around to the fish-stick way of life so we three girls could have something to bond over—kind of a chicks’ night in, with fish. Alas, it was not to be. I carried my fish-stick loathing into adulthood; while I have grown to love fish fillets, never has a box of fish sticks desecrated my freezer.
(I should observe that we three never had difficulty bonding over chocolate.)
I bring up fish sticks because today I can identify with Jonah.
God called; I ran.
As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I believe God has had me in a period of waiting, this year. It has been long and it has been difficult, and although He has blessed me in many ways as I have journeyed through it, by August I had had enough.
Am I really hearing God? I’d wonder. Was that confirmation really confirmation, or just my own ego? Would God really put me through a period of waiting…for months? What if He is waiting for me to move—to step out in faith?
Anguish and prayer and tears and finally, in August, I said, “I’m done. I don’t know what You’re doing, Lord, and I don’t know if this is really You so I am going my own way. If You want me to wait any more, You will have to shut the door.” (And yes, it could be argued that my tone was rather Jonah-like in anger. I preferred to think of it as being honest with God in my “King David-like frustration.”)
So He did shut the door. Metaphorically speaking, He shut it on my hand…which is now sufficiently injured to keep me on the bench—waiting—for another few weeks.
And I am happy. Happy!! I know, isn’t that crazy? But I am happy because now I know. Yes, that was God! I was hearing His voice! He was giving me direction! Thank You, Jesus, You weren’t on vacation!
But in truth, the injury is humbling and it is annoying. It means I will have to ask for help—Ms. Independent, who has been able to take care of herself for years without much assistance, thank you very much.
Ms. Independent, who now cannot even scrub a pot.
Perhaps there is a lesson in humility tag-teaming this lesson in patience?
On Saturday, in a desperate bid to make sense of it all, I pulled out a little book I hadn’t read in many years: Bruce Wilkinson’s Secrets of the Vine.
Secrets of the Vine was a follow-up to Wilkinson’s wildly successful prior attempt, a little book called The Prayer of Jabez. I am not sure if Secrets was as successful, but if not I know why: it deals with pain. It’s a topic most folks—myself included—would rather avoid.
But when you’re in the middle of the ocean in the middle of a storm and no boat in sight, that’s when you flail desperately for the life preserver.
Wilkinson writes, “Did you know that growers prune their vineyards more intensively as the vines age? One horticultural bulletin I read explained why:
“The vine’s ability to produce growth increases each year, but without intensive pruning the plant weakens and its crop diminishes. Mature branches must be pruned hard to achieve maximum yields.
“If you look at the future from a maturing plant’s point of view, there’s considerable cutting in store. But from the grower’s point of view, the future holds something wonderful—grapes, grapes, and more grapes!” 
This little book helped me to realize that God isn’t doing this because He hates me or wants to see me squirm. He has a reason for this season of waiting. A reason that is important enough to sideline me. He is doing this because He loves me and He knows that there are things in my life that need to be pruned off if I am to realize my full potential in Him. Perhaps my impatience is one of those things? Or my pride? Ouch.
That hurts more than my hand.
But either way, I’m just glad that—so far, at least—He hasn’t made me eat fish sticks.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1: 3-6 [Emphasis mine.]
 Wilkinson, B. (2001.) Secrets of the Vine. Multnomah Publishers, Colorado Springs, CO. p. 71