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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Walk By Faith Not By Sight

Posted by Mark Thursday, February 11, 2016 3 comments

Its been awhile, haven't felt much like writing lately. A little cloudy upstairs, no real direction or clarity in ideas. It happens.

But now there is some focus, finally something is coming together in my mind for the first time in a long time........ 

The vision in my right eye was still slightly blurry as I walked from the truck down a well worn path to the river. However, none of the trails in winter are really very good as the storms and winds have left branches, trees and other debris across the paths. Alder and fir limbs as well as a downed cedar blocked the trail in spots. Blackberry vines, dormant poison oak,hazel brush and Oregon Grape encroach in other places along the trail. My depth perception was still lacking and I had to concentrate to keep from losing my balance and falling down. Judging distances and where to put my foot next was a bit harder, especially on the hills. After I crossed the worst of the debris and just for fun, I closed my eyes. Feeling the groove of the trail under my feet I settle in, that's better I think to myself, I know this trail well.  The sound of the river pulls me forward and I continued cautiously, trusting my instincts, walking by faith.........

You see,in the last month, I have had cataracts removed from both eyes. Pretty routine surgery anymore and mine went very well. Its still surgery on two of the most amazing gifts we as humans possess and it was still a big deal for me especially at my age.

As I walked, I recalled the story one of the nurses told me in my most recent eye surgery about a 9 year old girl that had been almost blind by cataracts. Very rare at such a young age. When the surgery was over and they were wheeling her into the recovery room she was crying. The nurse was a little worried as the surgery is almost pain free. She asked the little girl if she was OK and why she was crying. The little girl looked up at the nurse with tears streaming down her face and said,     


I gotta say I got a little choked up as the nurse relayed this story. Now, granted my eyes were not nearly as bad as hers and my experience not nearly as dramatic, but as I looked out at the world after that first eye surgery I felt a certain kinship with that little girl. I CAN SEE!

Now, one day after the second eye surgery I was wondering if the eye would respond as well as the first. I struggled with the idea that the doctors may not have gotten the lens choice right, My right eye may not be as strong as the left but either way my overall eyesight was 95 percent better. I could live with that.

I pondered how my life had flown by so far. I am facing the mid century mark this year and the eyes were the first sign that I will not live forever, things are starting to wear out. I am not invincible,  I am merely a fleeting mist in the early morning dawn soon to be gone with the first rays of sun.

The river was in beautiful shape and at flows that I like to fish. Things were definitely different. I stood in awe as I surveyed the river bank trees. I could see the detail in the deeply furrowed bark of a fir tree. I could see woodpecker holes on another tree 80 feet up. I could see things way on the far ridge that I never noticed. I saw a hawk soaring a half mile above me. I could see seam lines and currents like never before. My eyes penetrated the jade green river easily seeing rocks well below the surface. Even with one eye not completely healed yet, my distance vision was again,outstanding.

I needed to change flies for the run as it has some shallow ledge rock throughout that required a completely unweighted offering. From about two feet in front of my face and beyond I have 20/15 vision with the left and I'll probably have 20/20 with the right when the eye heals up in another week or so. I have no close vision now and need readers to see in close. I fumbled around for the glasses trying to tie on a fly, feeling awkward and out of sorts. Glad no one was with me because I broke no records getting things tied on.

I started in close and watched the fly swing through the emerald water, the light tip coming under tension and swinging the fly just subsurface. As I lengthened the line and the fly went beyond my line of sight I started to cast a bit more straight across the river. I mended the line and freed it up for several seconds to probe the trench at mid river. Then, as the line tightened after the first third of the swing, it rose from its deepest point just in time to sweep the inside shelf without touching rock. I could visualize the tip and fly sinking without tension, swinging with light tension and then rising in the water column as tension increased towards the end of the swing. Right where I wanted it to. Leading the fly slightly I could find that balance of depth and speed and that hot knife through butter, positive/negative swing. The fly and tip I was using was working perfectly. I know I was getting the perfect swing. I had a bunch of line out and it was feeling very fishy. This is not a run that gets fished much in the winter although people are driving all over and fishing above and below it all the time. I just had that feeling there was one in there. The fly sliced through the run and just as it reached the outside edge of the rock I feel the slow tightening and typical feel of a cold water take. I wait and do nothing, the line continued to tighten almost as if it had caught the shelf. Then I feel the weight of the fish and he pulls off 8 feet of line then the line goes slack.  Perfect! All I could hope or ask for in a couple sessions this early........

The whole eye thing got me thinking, we fish for steelhead by faith and not by sight. Sure we may fish to a visible or spotted fish every now and again, but mostly we are fishing to unseen fish. We fish with proven methods and flies, just like that old path to the river. We don't need to see everything all the time. We have faith that we are doing the right thing in the right place because experience has told us it works.

As it is in life. As I get older and my faith gets stronger, I feel confident knowing the maker of heaven and earth holds it all together in his hands. I want to be doing the right thing in the right place at the right time for Him. I don't always know whats ahead on my path but I have seen God work powerfully in my life and many others and I know he will continue to do so as long as I trust in and put my faith in Jesus Christ. If you know Jesus you know the Father.

Do I stumble and fall sometimes? You bet I do, and will continue to. I'm not perfect but thankfully I'm forgiven if I ask. He always picks me up and sets my feet back on the path.

As I age, my body breaks down and I ponder my own mortality someday, I am not afraid. I know where I am going and have confidence and assurance of that fact. My confidence is not in anything I do, it is in what Jesus has done for me. He died on the cross for you and for me. He paid the price for my sin and yours. It has taken me awhile to figure it out but my purpose in this world is to know God and make him known. You know, that's your purpose too. That's why we're here people!

It's that simple. Know God and make Him known. How are you doing with that? Knowing God is about knowing Jesus. Its never too late to make a change in your life.Trust Jesus

If any one of my 12 readers ever wants to talk more about it email me.

I'm happy to answer any questions and always ready to give an answer for the hope I have found.

2Cor 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

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For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.(Rom 1:20)