Suzie Mango does not give up hope. Every time we are eating or even standing up to go to the kitchen, she will always be one step behind us. She will always sit or lay down in front of us, hoping that she will just get a little bit of food.
What is funny is that she received food once on the 4th of July. She got a hotdog and then proceeded to have diarrhea for the next 24 hours. SO ever since that, we never give her any food. But even prior to receiving food, she would often follow and sit in front of us whenever we were eating. In hopes to get just a bite.
So how did she learn this behavior? Is it just biological in her that is thinking that maybe this one time (every time) that she will receive some kind of food? Why does she keep doing this when it will never happen? Why won’t she give up? She has got to know by now, she will not receive any human food, right?
This is hope. I am not too sure if she will ever get something off of our plates, but she seems to be somewhat content to just lay down next to the table.
Faithful living is all about hope. It is hoping for things we never experienced, never possessed. This is what faith is so difficult. We can feel like we spend our entire lives just waiting…. Just hoping. Hoping that God would just correct all the injustice we see, correct people’s morals, and ethics, and everything else in between! We just sit and wait and hope for God to make this world peaceful!
So, we wait, like my yellow lab, and hope for things unseen.
Hope sounds a bit foolish. And it is! But it is also about being comfortable amid hope. Just because something doesn’t go our way or that the world around us seems frustrating. Hope is about being comfortable.
I feel at times God has been training us humans to deal with life and always have hope. God knows that life is unpredictable. And I do believe that God knows this and that the whole point of life being unpredictable is to ultimately put our trust in Him. The good and bad aspects of life situations. Hope in never being discouraged at the curve balls in life.
So, what can we do about this? Hope is foolish! But hope is about practice. You can be hopeful, comfortable, and happy. And sometimes we can find enjoyment in the anticipation of waiting, being patient, and being hopeful!
To my yellow lab’s behavior. It may seem pitiful and heartbreaking to see her continually look as us with hope filled eyes for the possibility of getting some human food, but it really isn’t. There is too much going on in her life that gives her joy. And even when we get done eating, she is ready for us to hang out in the living room, or play outside, or play tug of war. For her, it is ok to have hope, even if you may not get immediate results. She will continue to do this for the entirety of her life, whether she is able to taste human food or not.
Just always remember, whatever you may be hoping for, there are other things in your life that are fulfilled. Do not ignore them, and do not let your impatience and hopelessness overcome the fulfilling aspects of the rest of your life.
I haven’t seen some people from high school, college, seminary, and grad school in ages. How long? Try about 12 years or longer. That’s a long time. Some of my good friends haven’t even met my family. Never met my wife or children. Might sound weird to you all that I would call them my “good” friends. They are my “good friends” and I would put them up as my “best friends.” (I didn't initially say "best friends" because it doesn't sound like me and makes me feel like a teenage girl talking about their BFFs.)
Now I know that normally when it comes to friendship, we are supposed to be in somewhat proximity, or at least be able to communicate, or see each other for more than 10 years. But sometimes life takes us on a fun roller coaster ride, and you just can’t stop in the middle of the ride of life.
In this picture, I saw my old grad buddies from Claremont this past night. Our paths just happened to cross, and we had a great time spending the night together and they got to meet my family and my big puppy Suzie. I am looking forward to meeting their family as well.
Even though I haven’t been the best communicator with my friends, which I feel terrible about, when we first saw each other tonight, it’s almost like we haven’t skipped a beat. There was no nervousness, no tension, not even talking about “where were you?” talk or “what happened?” talk. It was just gabbing about whatever and anything.
This to me is a sign of a lasting friendship. I know that whatever happens in the future, and even if we find ourselves apart for an extended amount of time, they will always be my buds. Love does not break.
To be honest in the last few months, I have been reconnecting with old friends serendipitously. It just started happening. For example, when talking on the phone with my friend Jack, again… it’s like we never skipped a beat. Again, love does not break.
Love surpasses time and beyond all circumstances in life. So, this is the closest metaphor we can think about when it comes to our relationship with God.
We may miss a prayer, a church service, a fellowship event, or even fail to think about God for an extended amount of time, which is somewhat normal for most of us. But that does not mean that God forgets about you. And it does not mean that when you take a step forward in getting closer to God you need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. God isn’t going to ask you about “What happened,” or “Where were you,” or “Explain yourself.” That is not what God does. God, like the strong relationship we have with other people, will embrace you and never skipped a beat with you. God’s love does not fail, it does not break, it does not disappoint. It is never too late to rediscover God in your life.
“People who don’t fish think it is lazy or boring. But it is the complete opposite. There are a hundred little decisions to be made, variables to be considered. And you are never quite sure what made the difference. Did I cast too high or too far to the left, reel it in too slow or too fast? Is the lure too shiny or too dull? Do I stay here, or should I go over there? You know it’s not luck, but you don’t know by how much.
People are predictable, unchanging, monotonous. They use the same language, offer the same excuses, make the same mistakes. People are endlessly disappointing because you hope they won’t be.
This is why I am fishing. Because I am never disappointed out here. Because I don’t expect anything, because anything is possible. I can be hopeful out here, even in failure. Because I know that if I just go over there around that tree, it might be different, something might be different, something I do might make a difference. “ -Rowan Pope
Now this is a quote from a character from the television show “Scandal.” And for the most part I can agree with him and his assessment of fishing. So… here is why I fish…
I love problem solving. I have always loved it since I was a kid. When something is broken, I want to find a way to fix it. When I am placed with a math problem, I want to find the right number. I love puzzles and mind games. Even when I had to do my ordination exams to be a pastor and we were asked to solve case scenarios, I loved those as well. I love thinking and the struggle involved in problem solving. I do believe fishing is the same as well.
Like what Rowan Pope says, fishing has a lot of variables to consider. I am not just dropping a line in the water aimlessly and just observing watching my line move. No! I am active. I am always on the move, trying to put a fishing pattern together. That is to solve what lure, what color, how fat to reel, where to fish so that I can land as on a consistent basis of fish on the bank. When I fish, I need to be focused. I need to consider every variable. Those are the type of lures to use, to what color of lures, thickness of line, type of fishing line, fishing gear that is correlates to the type of lure I am fishing, casting distance, casting accuracy, water temperature, air temperature, barometric pressure, water clarity, weather, wind, location to fish, and what time of the day to fish. Fishing is a lot of things to consider if you want to catch fish. When I fish, there is a purpose and goal, that is to catch fish, and to catch fish there is a lot of problem solving involved, a lot of work to do, and everything in consideration.
Our faith is as simple as fishing. In fishing if our goal is to catch fish, then our goal in faith is to get closer to God. Faith and fishing have a lot of variables to consider. But simply with faith, remember as you get older, everything becomes more and more complicated, because life and the world is complicated. The simple answers that we received in Sunday School as children may no longer give us comfort in our adult lives. That means we have to problem solve. We must consider time management, happiness, family, location, finances, vacation, relationships, work environment, and friend and family supportive system. These are also all variables that can affect our faith and the ability to get closer to God. Fishing has an aim; may your faith also have an aim and guidance as well.
Now, not too sure how much I agree with Rowan Pope on his assessment of people. But I do agree that the world can be disappointing. I think we invest so much hope for the world, only to be easily disappointed by the world. I think this is why many of Jesus, messages are all about detaching ourselves from worldly desires such as fame, popularity, dependance on people, money, material, lifestyle, and the pursuit of short-term happiness.
Because when the world can be tough, that is why I fish. Like Rowan Pope says, I can’t be disappointed in fishing…unless I don’t catch a fish, or unless I do not make an effort to catch fish, that is ignoring all the variables in fishing. You never know what to expect in fishing. Because you never know what is going to be at the end of your line. The moment you see your line jump, bobber go down, feel a tug, or tap, see your rod bend, you never know what is on the end of the line. It can be a 6-inch bass or a 10lb bass, or a 30lb carp, or a 32-inch pike, or a turtle, or a tire.
In fishing it’s hard to be disappointed because even if I am not catching fish, I can think that if I change, do something different, go somewhere different, change my approach, change my lure, or diameter of line, then maybe I can make a difference. This is why I fish, it’s never boring, and always full of anticipation and hope.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).