Gone Fishing

This is your reminder to pray on Monday for God to embolden men, soften women, and give the gift of marriage to those who desire it.

Clichés make the world go round. People, as a result of this wonderful experience called life, spout the wisdom of the ancients—amassed into pithy, over-simplified statements. The funny thing about clichés is that, they will never leave you (married or not), and they will sometimes hurt you if you leave them unchallenged in your heart.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • When facing a difficult choice—just let go, and let God.
  • When you haven’t gotten something you wanted—you just weren’t ready yet.
  • When parents are dealing with an unwieldy child—it’s just a phase.
  • When all your friends are couples, and there’s no one in sight—your time will come.
  • When you break up with your first boyfriend in ages or can’t get a date to save your life—there are always more fish in the sea.

Sometimes, you’ve let go, you are ready, it’s not a phase, your time has passed, and good grief, there are still no fish in any sea, anywhere on God’s green earth.

Take me for example. As you might know if you’re a regular to FastPray, a bunch of my single girlfriends and I signed up for online dating. We were intentional. We were brave. We edited each other’s profile weirdness. I had my reservations, but I went out there in cyber-love-land, smiled at every man between 25 and 35, and got essentially nothing back. And, to be honest, that stung… a lot. My carefully crafted profile with my most photogenic self couldn’t get a single date, much less a fish.

Once you’re down in the dumps about your dating life, you can be sure a “helpful” friend will be close at hand with a few quips about how to solve your problem. Or in my case, I don’t need other people to get bad advice. I have a modern, Greek-tragedy style chorus. They pop into my head at times like these, ringing:

Don’t worry! There’s always more fish in the sea.

At the risk of speaking in italics for too long or taking a bowling ball to the pin-headed ensemble in my head—sometimes, there are NO fish in the sea!

Around the time I was resigning myself to a bag of Halloween candy and sweatpants, I came across this passage from Luke 5.

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

Or, as the Holy Spirit applied the verses to me:

Jesus: Anna, I know you want to be married. Keep walking with me on this journey. Keep looking for a godly life partner.

Me: Master, I toiled through online dating for weeks recently and for months in the past, and it was a waste of money, time, and it frustrated me to not even get a date. I’m too dispirited to try again.

The question the Holy Spirit left me with was:

Will you let down your nets again?

In that moment, I felt Peter’s tired, dirty sweat for the first time. Jesus was asking Peter to do something absolutely ridiculous. Peter had tried before. He’d been ready all night for the catch. He’d waited for his time to come. And, Jesus asked him to go back out on the water again. And, Peter went.

I’m not saying I’m going to jump right back online tomorrow, but instead of putting my emotional deflector shields back up, I’m going to just keep praying and fishing—trusting that God is good.

Blessings on you as you pray in faith this week.

Anna

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19 Responses to Gone Fishing

  1. Kate says:

    Hi!
    I had been struggling with letting go of a relationship and having faith for the future. I’m 34 and just a little ‘over it’ at times. I had felt God’s encouraging nudge at times this last year but in my heart refused to be encouraged as it just seemed too painful to hope. I would reply to him with my “it’s ok God, don’t worry, I’m alright, it’s not your fault!’ – but it felt too hard to believe again.
    I was in Africa (of all places) on a missions trip and went to hear a speaker one night. She spoke about Simon’s experience of ‘letting down the net’ again at Jesus’s command. The disciples were professionals at fishing and Jesus in comparison was a carpenter. Can you imagine the potential for disdain if he wasn’t who he is. ‘Jesus, with all respect, we know what we’re doing and we’ve been TRYING all night!! but at your word…’ I felt God was speaking to me through this. To have faith, to believe again despite the painful disappointments of the past and the continual aging of me! lol. I thought, oh well, that’s nice but I’m probably just making this up – reading something into scripture that wasn’t there. ‘Ok God’ I said ‘You have to confirm this to me’ as I (of little faith) didn’t dare to believe he really had some faith for me too. I was back at work a few days later and I got your blog update via email. It was like you’d read my mail! I re-read the scripture, this time with more faith. I’ve been on a few dates since then, nothing has come of it, but I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m trying not to wear a ring on my left ring finger and send out the ‘I’m fine alone’ vibes! I’m laughing inside to some degree at God’s kindness and sense of humour when I read verse 10b “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Ok Lord, bring it on!
    I just wanted to say thanks Anna 🙂

  2. Rebecca Byrd says:

    You speak to so many who are feeling the same way! My discouragement came in the 15 years that no one asked me out. I had already walked through 15 years of disappointment when I joined the online dating world. So my online dating experience was a little different but I still had a low fish count. I sent winks to every daily match that came to me and even went on and sent more that wasn’t in my daily match’s. Even people that I normally wouldn’t have thought my “type” I was connecting to. My thoughts were I had been single for 45 years and really didn’t know what “type” of man would be good for me so I was casting a very wide net. It is funny to me that people join a dating site but don’t want to date. What In the world?!?! They send you a wink back or send you an email and then nothing. Or the ones that keep emailing you but never want to meet. I prayed that God would protect me and weed out the weirdos and for the most part He did. When I met my husband he was such a breath of fresh air and I could tell that he was different from the others. I pray that you begin to enjoy this time of dating and pray Galatians 6:9 for you: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Here is a cliche for you: Don’t give up!!!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Galatians 6:9 for you: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This is so encouraging! Thank you. 🙂 — Anna

  3. Simon says:

    As a guy, I thought I would give Christian online dating a go. I have been using it since September.

    I also got nothing basically. One thing that has been particularly humbling is that many of my emails to women have not even been read. It is a great way of getting rid of pride when you receive no responses. You can hardly think too much of yourself. Out of the 7 emails which I have sent, only 3 have been read. And there has been no response to those emails which have been read.

    I almost closed my account today. But I decided not to just in case there might be someone out there in the internet dating world.

  4. Karis says:

    Incredibly well-written, this post testifies to a real understanding of what we all feel. The unexpected but surprisingly applicable story of Peter and the nets was brilliant, encouraging, and reminds us that REAL HELP is right there in God’s Word, even though you won’t find “dating” in a concordance. Thank you, sister!

  5. Rebekah says:

    Oh, friend- I’m sorry! I tried online too for a little bit because I felt like the Lord was prompting me to and it was kinda deflating to see that with all those people online, I wasn’t getting much of a response. 😦 It was a humbling experience and I did feel more compassion for the wide variety of people out there searching. I totally get that there are [long] seasons of no fish. May He hold your gaze while you keep taking steps of faith!

  6. Kristi says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It really ministers to me as I seek the Lord about what comes next. Meanwhile, I agree about all the quips. There are no pat answers to why we wait. Future answers belong to God (as I’m learning) and no amount of speculating in my own wisdom seems to help.

    I’ll leave you with this: Precious one, you have a teachable spirit and God has great plans for you.

    • fast. pray. says:

      You are so sweet. You are so right about the future. I always think about this quote from The Screwtape Letters.

      “The Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most temporal part of time–for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”

      –Anna

  7. Chipo Monica says:

    whaaal so amazing and powerfull i am touched and i love it n will put my focus on God and listen to him thanx Anna

  8. Helen Crews says:

    Well said, and timely.

  9. Sheila says:

    Love it love it love it!!! Good for you for listening in on the Holy Spirit and not letting discouragement get the best of you. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing the same thing but throwing a bucket down a well, and it keeps coming up dry no matter how long the rope. Keep casting, sister! Love, Sheila

  10. Anne says:

    Love it. Exactly what I needed to hear this evening when I feel discouraged about the whole waiting game. Thank you.

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