The Wisdom of the Fortune Cookie


Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”


Around the time my best friend Lynn died from an unexpected and very aggressive form of cancer, I opened my fortune cookie to find this inside:

“Faith is knowing there is an ocean
when you can only see the stream.”

At this juncture in my life I could only see the stream, and it was very small, merely a trickle. There was certainly no ocean in sight. Kim (our other best friend) and I had just returned from a grueling trip to the National Institutes of Health where we had been punched in the face with the words, “There is nothing else we can do,” and had worked with her father to get her Angel Flighted home so she could pass her final days surrounded by her loved ones. Yes, I did know there was an ocean, but it was far, far away, and the stream I saw was oh so small.

Recently my cell phone fell into the sink. Normally not a big deal but that cell phone contained two things that were irreplaceable. One, the final text from Lynn telling me she loved me, as well as other comforting texts she had written shortly after my nephew Matt passed at age 29 just six months prior to Lynn’s passing. Two, the fortune from my fortune cookie, which had been tucked between the phone and it’s case. I had kept it to remind me that there was indeed an ocean—out there, somewhere.

It had fallen out several times, but never lost. My dear husband finally taped it to my phone to avoid that risk. However, when the phone fell in the sink, the fortune, like the phone and my precious text messages, couldn’t be rescued. I kept the ripped and mangled fortune on my counter until I knew what to do with it.

As I sit down to write today, I know what to do with it. I create the simple picture above and I write. I write of a time that’d I’d rather not remember but is etched indelibly in my memory. I write of messages and words lost. I write of a best friend and a nephew lost, both way too soon. I grieve as I write—tears rolling down my face as I remember all I have lost.

I know the creative process as one that helps us grieve. I know the heart cannot let go of that which it has not grieved. I know that simply putting these words and memories “down on paper” will help. I know all these things in my head. Yet I’m not sure I know them in my bones—in the deepest places where I fear the grief will never subside—in the places that long for days and words and memories long past.

I’m not sure this post will even make much sense—at least to those who’ve never experienced this type of loss. But for those who have, I suspect you know exactly what I’m saying, or not saying, so it seems. All the lost words, read between the lines of  fortune cookies and texts, of memories good and bad, of grief and belief.

I’m not exactly sure what Lynn’s passing was supposed to teach all of us. I suspect it was of heaven and the preciousness of life, of a heart that loved so many of us so deeply and richly, and how to be the image of Christ to those we love. For me personally it taught me all these things and a few others—to not be afraid, to just believe, to know there is indeed an ocean—somewhere out there, even if I can only see the stream.

LynnLynn Postiy Hill 1968 – 2013

(C) 2014 Jody Thomae

Jody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift–Unleashing the Artist in You and The Creator’s Healing Power–Restoring the Broken to Beautiful, both part of the Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within series. For more Bible studies like the one above, you can purchase her books at: Amazon, Jody’s Square Store and through other book retailers. They are also available in Kindle.

10 thoughts on “The Wisdom of the Fortune Cookie

  1. Sandy McDonald Garrabrant

    Jody – You were out of school by the time it happened, but my only brother was killed in a car accident the summer before my senior year at Ashland.

    Your fortune describes it perfectly. There was just a trickle. Just a little spark of hope that perhaps heaven was real, and perhaps he was there. And that trickle might even have dried up to a creekbed for awhile, when Satan had his way with my thoughts and emotions.

    But God is good. And the rains came, and the trickle was there, and my faith returned and the trickle became a flow, and here I am, glimpses of the ocean scattering the memories of my past, things I can look at now and see the active strong hand of a loving God. Just because my brother’s death was unexpected, and I can’t see the sense of it, even now, I know it was part of my journey to bring me here into this relationship with my God.

    Well said, And thanks for putting a new image with a tragedy.

  2. Jennifer

    Oh Jody! I am reading this with tears running down my face. You are such an amazing person to put all these things into words. No wonder you are surrounded with so many amazing people, here and those looking down from heaven.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s