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Wind your Watch

It’s been eight days now since the clock on the Quiet Time Binder ran out, and I’ve been holed up in my shell ever since. I’m not one to social media hustle. And I’m also not one to step out and do something I’m not convinced will succeed. So the last 30 days took a lot out of me. I spent the last couple of campaign days repeating one, single prayer: God, bring the rain. I relentlessly checked the Kickstarter, anticipating the funding, expecting the goal to be hit, shocked when it wasn’t. If you missed my Instagram note, I shared about how Josh and I sat for a few hours the night before the deadline crunching the numbers, trying to justify an investment to cover the cost of the remaining balance, to push it over the goal ourselves. But it didn’t feel right. As much as I wanted to help it along myself, it just didn’t feel right. So, with puffy eyes, I made the difficult decision to leave it where it was.

It wasn’t until I was lying in bed in the stillness of darkness that leaves you alone with the shouting thoughts in your head that I realized why it didn’t feel right. Forcing this thing over the goal line ourselves felt the same as the idea of doing in-vitro to force a pregnancy in our waiting days. Would it have been an incredible story of God’s provision for getting us to the end goal in both situations? Yes, absolutely. But for us? In our unique story? It wasn’t right. So, that night, nine days ago, I released my grip on the first iteration of this dream of a binder project. And the next morning, I poured my coffee and watched the final seconds count down, flashing red, all the way down to the flatline.

This isn’t how things go on social media, right? It’s all picture-perfect, look what I turned to gold, and happy hustle endings. Sure, it feels embarrassing to publicly concede to a failed goal. But it’s not the end of this project. We’ll get it to market somehow, someday. It wasn’t until days later, as I studied Mark 4 in preparation for a retreat I’m teaching at, that I realized: God did bring the rain. It just wasn’t the rain I was expecting. I had been praying for the 1 Kings 18 kind of expected rain with the faith of Elijah. 

And God brought the Mark 4:37 kind of storm that I didn’t expect.

The storms are similar if you peel back the layers to look at the linguistics – with Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:45, the sky turned black with clouds and wind and heavy rain. And in Mark 4:37? The text reads that a great windstorm arose. But if you look at the Greek word that’s used there for “storm,” you’ll find lailaps waiting for you – it’s where the modern Greek word for “hurricane” comes from, and it describes a violent attack of wind. It’s never a single gust or a steady, blowing wind. No, it’s a storm breaking forth from black thunder clouds in furious gusts, with floods of rainthrowing everything topsy-turvy.

That’s how I feel right now, I thought when I read the words, shocked I had missed that the rain that I had asked for had actually come. Everything feels tossed upside down, I’m not sure what to do next.

I spent the next few days sitting in the aftermath of the unfunded campaign, listening to the silence after the storm, hearing the water lap against the sides of my torn-up boat, wondering what the heck just happened. I questioned everything. Retraced my faith-steps. Tried to understand where I misheard, where I stepped out wrongly.

But those 12 men in that boat with Jesus in Mark 4:37? They didn’t step into it wrongly. Jesus told them two verses earlier to get into that boat with Him to cross to the other side – it was His idea. And they eventually made it to their destination (with a wild story to tell).

As I sorted this all out, I reached for my faith fidget-spinner – the thing that I know God has gifted me with. It’s the thing I can do to busy myself enough to ease the anxiety that comes with uncertainty, but not in the distracting kind of busy-way that Martha had about her in Luke 10:40. I needed to get back to the busying act of service that made room for the people around me to get closer to Jesus – my walking love language, my active spiritual gift: teaching. So I opened my Bible to the section of Scripture allotted for my upcoming women’s retreat, and I began to study, molding the clay of my message.

I told Josh about my fidget spinner conclusion over dinner the other night. He had just returned home from four days of golfing at one of the top five golf resorts in North America when I told him about spinning my faith-fidgeter while everything else outside of my control was going topsy-turvy.

“You’re winding your watch,” he said.

Earlier that morning, as he ate breakfast with a friend, a man walked into the restaurant. Having that facial recognition software built into his brain that he does, Josh immediately recognized him as the architect behind the design of the award-winning courses he had just spent the weekend playing. As it turned out, Josh’s friend knew him, and they began a conversation. It started with your average filler: How well did you play? How long are you here? And the conversation quickly turned to aviation, as the architect was also a pilot and preparing to fly back home later that morning. There had been a small plane crash off the coast of North Carolina in recent days, so they began to talk about plane crashes and the things that can happen in the air, sketchy situations pilots can find themselves in. And in his thick Irish accent, the architect-aviator shared a passed-down piece of wisdom:

“There is a saying among pilots when things go awry:

wind your watch

He went on to talk about how easy it is to panic when you get into a cloud fog and don’t know which end is up. You start messing with instruments, abruptly correct mistaken trajectory, make things worse.

“The plane is coasting,” he said. “So, before you react, take a minute to wind your watch.” Take a breath. Calmly think it through. And then act.

I thought about the actual act of winding your watch: you take it off of your wrist, carefully pull the pin on the side, and slowly wind the tiny dial until you feel resistance. You’re feeling for the subtle tension against a pin the size of a pen tip. When it feels right, you pop the pin back in, put the watch back on your wrist. It’s something that old-school aviators had done a million times, and it’s a way to calm yourself in the face of a potentially disastrous situation.

For me? My first shot at a wild dream didn’t pan out. As I’ve taken some days to wind my watch, I know: it’s not disastrous. And I also know: God told me to step into this boat, to launch it out. I know that my word for this year is “launch.” So I pick up the errant wind-blown items that got thrown from the boat, pull it all back together, and press forward to the other side of the lake.

I’ll let you know what happens when we get there.

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