Watching for whales out my living room window isn’t something I talk about a lot. Not because it’s crazy–I live near Puget Sound, home to whales–but because twenty-five years of watching for them has proven fruitless. Until yesterday.
I was just eating my salmon dinner and looking out the window at the especially calm waters on that last night of April when I realized that something else out there seemed to be enjoying his own seafood dinner. A very large head came up out of the water again and again, shaking around and splashing. Birds circled low above his head, looking like they wanted to get in on the dinner, too. Binoculars confirmed it–whale!
It brought to mind a verse we talked about at church on Sunday–Hebrews 11:1. It describes faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It’s a verse that is hard to wrap my mind around–how can we have such assurance about something that we hope for, but can’t see? It’s almost like a tongue-twister, or like a cat chasing its tail. A “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario.
Yet, last night, as I pondered this verse and thought about how I finally saw a whale after twenty-five years of living in my house along Puget Sound, it suddenly made sense. Scientists on the news, signboards at Alki, neighbors reporting in to the community blog, textbooks on Washington State–all contributed to my knowledge, my assurance, that whales lived in Puget Sound. Eye-witness accounts corroborated that idea often enough that even if I didn’t see them myself, I knew they were there, somewhere in that 800-feet-deep water out in front of my living room window.
I had faith in the existence of the whales, and I had hope that I might be lucky enough to see one someday. My confidence was not ill-advised or pie in the sky.
The deep, deep waters of the publishing industry occupy my thoughts these days as I am still waiting for two traditional publishers to let me know if one of them will take on my Sophie Topfeather series. It’s been three or four months–not twenty-five years–since I’ve submitted the manuscript, and yet I have to admit that some days I already feel weary of the wait. I just want to know, to see the email or get the phone call that will put my questions to rest and help me discern what God might be directing me to do with those books and characters I love so much.
And yet, I remember all the “eyewitness” accounts–including my own–of God’s faithfulness, amazing moments of God’s presence through the journey that Sophie Topfeather and I have already traveled, the way the kids at school have responded, the way that whales show up just as I am pondering the question of waiting and hoping in God–and I have to say that I have faith in the next phase of the journey, too. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit, that mysterious third part of the Trinity that gifts us with faith and hope and comfort and peace–despite not knowing if we will ever, ever see for ourselves that whale in whatever deep waters we are facing.
So, even when I cannot see a whale in that deep publishing sea yet, I know it is there. And I am glad.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 15:13.