Do you know how to count it all joy?

I saw a man fishing at the lake yesterday. He wore black knee-high boots and stood in the water that came about halfway up his boots. I bet the water felt cold, as we’ve barely kicked the frost in Maryland.

He just kept standing there in his baggy khakis draped over his boots, holding his fishing pole with his line cast out in the water. Does this lake even have fish to catch? I wondered about him and his life, about all the people joining me in the walk around the path that lines the edge of the lake.

How does the fisherman in the floppy hat just stand there, calmly and patiently waiting while surely his life must include chapters of darkness?



Even when the water feels too cold and I don’t even know if there are fish to catch, I want to show up like this fisherman. I want to throw out my line and stand there waiting with great expectation. Or maybe it’s with no expectation, no dreams of fish to catch.

Just a desire to stand there in the calm stillness with the birds chirping and the bushes rustling. A desire to chase slow living with a focus on simplicity.

We’re built for repetition. Showing up again and again, never tired of the same story told about those building a beautiful life.


The fisherman must have trials waiting for him at home. He must have disappointment and heartbreak, sickness and pain knocking at his door. And yet, he stands there in the calm water fishing. He seemed peaceful.

Maybe that’s the secret to counting it all joy: Finding ordinary moments that bring us joy, even when our trials will catch up to us eventually.

The rest can wait. Right now, I am fishing.


As I circled the lake twice, I watched the people pushing strollers, holding hands, learning to run with headphones blasting. The people sitting alone on the benches. The young boy wandering and saying something to himself.

How many forms of trials turned the corner? How many forms of heartbreak pushed up the hill? How many forms of pain sat on the benches?

And yet, they all showed up to feel the sunshine. They all showed up to walk the path with each step, some seeming more fit for the journey than others.


I certainly do not. But I’m learning to watch the fisherman, the man jogging, the old man reading the newspaper, and the gray-haired baker.

Sure, they are just stories that I invent in my head, words that I string together on the page to make sense of the real, the messy, and the ordinary. I’ve wanted to give you more, to sell you a product that will change your life, but all I have to give you are stories. Stories are all I’ve ever had to give.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4 NLT

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