I remember so vividly the sunrise this particular morning was astounding. The humid summer air was sticky, but still there was a freshness about it. The orangey-pink of the morning sky reflected off the lake’s glassy water. I couldn’t help but stare in total awe at the beauty of the creation of the creator who painted it.
I was somewhere in my adolescent junior high years, in the critical moments of trying to figure life out. In this particular moment of life I was on a camping trip with my grandparents in the not-so-brilliant state of Oklahoma. My grandfather and I decided to get up early in the morning while it was still dark and go fishing.
The sun rose and the beautiful pastel colors faded into the light blue norm of the noonday sky. I, in my infant wisdom, thought the beauty of such a sunrise to be a sure sign of the fishing success I was sure to embark on. But as the hours dragged on and the sun was nearing the highest part in the sky, I had caught a whopping total of zero fish. But I had been freshly reminded of God’s faithfulness and beauty in the sunrise I had seen earlier that morning. So, like any good young Christian I began to pray. I began to pray that I would catch a fish. And not only that I would catch a fish, but that I would catch the biggest fish and most impressive fish that I had ever seen.
My grandfather, ready to go for an early lunch at this point, suggested that we give up for the day. I then proceeded to explain to him my prayer to catch this huge and impressive fish. After he chuckled at my ambitious prayer, I explained to him, in depth, that God was a God who could do anything, even grant me a huge and impressive fish. As he has several degrees in divinity and over 50 years of experience as a pastor, it was completely unnecessary to explain to him what he already knew, but he listened intently anyways.
After listening to what was probably a very un-theologically-sound explanation of my prayer, he responded with an answer that would stick with me, long after that beautiful morning fishing trip. He said, “sweetheart, if God allowed a huge and impressive fish to take the bait on the end of your line it wouldn’t hold. You have a 10 pound line, and any huge and impressive fish would snap that line before you could even start reeling.” And then he said something so un-profound and simple, “Maybe you shouldn’t pray for a huge and impressive fish. Maybe instead you need to be praying for a stronger line.”
You shouldn’t pray for a big fish, you should pray for a stronger line. What?
If I had caught the fish that I wanted, the fish that I so diligently prayed for, my line would have snapped. My pole just didn’t have the physical capability of doing what I wanted it to do. As followers of Christ, we continue to pray for things in life because that’s what we’ve been taught to do. Mom gets cancer, you pray for healing. Lose your job, you pray for a new one. We pray for different circumstances and different results. We look externally for the things that will make it good, but in our selfishness and ignorance we seldom look internally.
Stop asking God to change your circumstance and instead ask Him to change your heart. God wants to use you in whatever place you’re in. He isn’t going to make it better by fixing the external, He’s going to make it great by changing the internal. So pray, and pray very diligently, not for a bigger fish but for a stronger line.