Turning Over Rocks: Looking For Signs of Life and Possibility

Rivers and streams are full of life that often goes undetected.  Every day this ecosystem is alive with aquatic life from flies to fish (and much more).  As fly fishermen/women we are trying to solve the puzzle in our part of the stream on a specific day so we can present our best cast with the right fly to a waiting trophy trout.  One of the secrets experienced fly fishermen have learned, before they even step into a stream or make the first cast, is to pause, bend down, and turn over rocks to detect what is happening in the life of the stream.  This secret opens the door of fishing possibilities.

Have you ever considered looking for signs of life (God’s presence, movement, and leading) by turning over the rocks in your life?

Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors uniquely gifted at speaking into the journeys of life and faith.  For Henri, life with God is to be discerned through the moments and experiences (the rocks) of our daily lives.  We move so quickly through our days and seasons of life.  Making casts all over the streams of life frantically trying to catch a trophy, but rarely doing so (let alone enjoying the journey to the stream and taking in all the stream has to offer and say to us).  Henri believes, and I agree, that God is speaking and moving (alive) every day of our lives, much like the aquatic life in the stream—every day.  It is only until we pause, bend over in prayer, and turn over some rocks, ceasing to pull line of the reel and making guessing casts, do we find what is really going on underneath the surface of our lives.

Philippians 4:6-9 is a turning over rocks kind of verse calling us to pause and intentionally focus our lives. It says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  (NIV)

Turning over rocks in your daily experiences (our joys, pains, suffering, thoughts, reactions, situations, relationships, conversations…) opens us to the possibilities to recognize the life and good things happening in our lives—every day.  But we have to look.  We have to turn over rocks.  We need to pray and seek God’s wisdom, understanding, and presence.  He is ready to reveal all that is going on under the surface if we would only bend down, turn over some rocks, and pay attention to what we see.  From there, a world of possibility emerges in how and where we cast our lives for the glory of God.

For Reflection

  • Next time you go fishing, turn over a few rocks and observe what you see.
  • Take a moment and reflect on your last few days or week.  What are the rocks present under the surface of your life?  List what you find under each of them.
  • Imagine God has been right there with you, active under each of those rocks.  What do you see God doing in you, others, and each situation?
  • Pray for God to be glorified through your life and your actions.  Ask for His wisdom and presence.  How do you feel prompted to respond to each of your rocks?
  • Consider repeating this practice several times a week and be ready to see how God is moving in your life and how your life begins to change.