Glimpses of the SupernaturalPosted March 19th, 2009
by Bert Williams
The brass Mepps spinner landed lightly behind a rock attached to the end of a six-pound test line. It was dusk along Idaho’s Snake River a few hundred yards below Swan Falls. My son, Joel, and I had wiled away the previous four hours in an unproductive but delightful fishing trip.
Joel, 8 years old at the time, was a wonderful companion on such a jaunt—not yet old enough to recognize many of his father’s faults, and filled with questions and his own observations about our surroundings.
“Joel,” I had said moments before, just loud enough to be heard above the sound of the swiftly moving water. “See that rock out there?” I pointed to a smallish boulder exposed in the current a moderate cast from where we stood.
“Good place for a nice smallmouth bass to rest and wait for some food to drift by. If I can get the cast right,” I said, cocking my spinning rod back over my head, “we might see some action.”
No sooner said than done. The lure had scarcely touched the surface when it was inhaled by the predicted smallmouth—a one-and-a-half-pound acrobat that put up a strong fight before coming to the bank and being released.
“How did you know a bass would be there?” Joel asked as the headlights from our Chevy pickup highlighted the ruts in the dirt road leading up out of the canyon. It was tempting to offer an explanation that would perpetuate his outsized evaluation of my angling skills. Instead, I told the truth.
“I’d been casting behind rocks all afternoon,” I said. “I just got lucky when you happened to be watching.”
Beneath the Surface
It was a fishing trip of several hours in which almost nothing happened. Yet it was a fine afternoon, well worth the trip. Quite a lot like life, actually.
We seem to spend most of our days in ordinary and unspectacular ways. We work, we pay bills and taxes, we attend church, we raise our kids—all very ordinary things. Only occasionally do we catch a glimpse of what is going on beneath the surface of the natural world we inhabit.
It has rarely been otherwise. Even in Bible times the vast majority of people did not experience much that was spectacularly miraculous. In the back of one of my Bibles is a list of the miracles recorded in its pages. The list reveals that during the 1,500 years or so when the Bible was written, there were only three relatively brief periods when miracles seemed commonplace: the times of Moses and Joshua, then Elijah and Elisha, and finally Jesus and the apostles.
But God was present in the ordinary times—even in the troublesome, difficult times—no less than during the times of fire and smoke and resurrections. And so it is in my life. Occasionally something will happen that—if I am paying attention—provides clear evidence that supernatural forces are at work. But usually I am left to work, and pray, and trust, without breathtaking evidence from the other side.
Living in Anticipation
One thing that compels fishermen to fish is the anticipation that they may actually catch something. Occasionally they do. The fact that they often do not usually fails to dissuade them from heading for the stream the next chance they get. So Christians live in anticipation of catching a glimpse from time to time of that which often lies hidden beneath the surface.
It is admittedly a flawed analogy. There is, for the Christian, so much more to anticipate. The occasional hints of the supernatural in our present lives foreshadow the day the Lord will break through into our existence on a breathtaking scale.
I long for that day.
However, I am usually happy fishing even when not much happens in the way of fish. And if God chooses to reveal only a little from beneath the surface in my present life, I need no more to be content.
When he wrote this piece for another Christian magazine several years ago, Bert Williams lived in Idaho. Joel and his wife, Erin, have recently produced Bert’s first grandson—quite a miracle in itself!