Don’t Miss the Dolphins

Paddleboarding-in-Sarasota-County_MilesArticleOptRecently, Jodi and I rented a paddleboard while spending a week together at the beach.

I must say that as someone who has never surfed or even successfully waterskied, my first try on the board was not very impressive. I had no idea what I was doing so those first rides lasted between 10-60 seconds. (Jodi, of course, owned it like a boss from the beginning). Honestly, it took me a couple of YouTube videos to get the basics down and day two was pretty good. Jodi and I both paddled a bit and had a good time. We also met some folks who seemed to have interest in our paddleboard “sea stories.” We thought they might want to give it a shot themselves so we offered up the use of the paddleboard for them to try.

Their responses:

Husband, “No I’d probably break something.”

Wife, “I can’t since I have a terrible fear of sharks.”

They were very interested in what it was like for us, but their fear of injury or “Jaws” kept them from even trying the board for themselves. This encounter made me think: I wonder how often we forsake “what could be” because of fear?

  • Afraid of what they might say, we refuse to ask that special someone on a date.
  • Afraid of getting lost we never leave the guided tour to experience the heart of a City.
  • Afraid of what “might happen,” we never travel beyond our own country or even our state.
  • Afraid of being “turned down” we simply don’t apply for a new job.
  • Afraid of failure, we choose never to return to school and complete a degree.
  • Afraid of rejection, we never share the gospel with others.

When we choose to allow fear to drive our actions, we acknowledge a (little g) god in our lives. It may be safety, security, control, or some other form of that false god, but, in our fear, we choose to serve it ahead of our goals, dreams, or even calling.

Fear is a non-negotiable in life. Everyone is afraid of something, sometimes. If you have no fear, you have a rare genetic condition called Urbach-Wiethe disease; or, you could be a run-of-the-mill psychopath who experiences fear but doesn’t recognize it. Otherwise…everyone experiences fear. Fear, though, is not the problem. What we do with fear determines our destiny and indicates Who or what we serve as our god/God.

Peter tells us to take our anxiousness/fear to Jesus (1 Peter 5:7). Paul says to seek God rather than serve anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7). Jesus tells us to believe (have faith)…because faith conquers fear.

Now, certainly Jesus did not direct me to go paddle boarding; however, the board serves as a good analogy to understand how to find victory over our fears. We pursue our objective with passion and refuse to quit.

Dolphins JumpingHonestly, paddling was cool but what I really wanted was to get up close to some dolphins. On day 3… I did. The water was choppy but I had mastered how to use it like a kayak so when we saw them beginning to play about a half-mile out, I looked to Jodi for approval, grabbed the board and took off for the open water. It took a bit to get out there (since they did not exactly wait on me). I had to plot an intercept course on the open water, but it paid off. I came to within about 15 feet of three dolphins playing as they surfaced near me. It was amazing! (In fact, it is what I had prayed for earlier that morning when I sat a few hundred yards offshore scanning the horizon. I told the Lord that He was all I needed but that I would love to see some dolphins up close if He’d let me.

When the dolphins submerged again (not to return), I looked down and was well beyond the emerald green water we are known for on the Gulf coast. In fact, I could barely make out the spot of beach I had departed from…but I did it! I saw the dolphins up close, simply by getting on the board, paddling hard and not stopping until I go there.

Our new friends…they never broke anything and they were certainly not eaten by sharks…but they also didn’t see the dolphins.

Here is the question…do you want to see the dolphins the Lord has in store for you?

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I am Dying…Just 1 More Year!

lightIn a conference that I participated in this week, one of the speakers posed the question, “What if you had three and only three years left to live?” How would you lives those remaining days?

As I have been chewing on that, it occurs to me that this is both helpful and painful. It is destructive and edifying…all at the same time.

How so…you might ask? (Yep…me too.)

If you only had a limited and fixed number of days to live, you’d likely spend every one of them in the most productive way possible. You would pursue the most important purposes. You would not allow yourself to become bogged down with the trivial things that so often consume your time and energy. You would be highly sensitive to the investment and outcome of every ounce of effort. After all…today is nearly gone and tomorrow promises one less day to invest in the Kingdom of God.

  • Certainly, you would invest in helping your family know how to live without you. You would pour into your children (in every possible way) the wisdom necessary to make it through the next several chapters of their lives.
  • You would seek to impress your affections for your spouse.
  • You would “bury the hatchet” with that old and lingering enemy. After all…life is short.
  • You would make amends with everyone.
  • You would seek to help others know (if you are a disciple of Jesus) the urgency of Salvation!

What would likely not be so prominent:

  • Your sports team’s record.
  • The fact that your friend hurt your feelings by saying something stupid.
  • Getting another raise (as if ten cents an hour really was important).
  • Buying that third pair of shoes or the latest CD or “rims” for your truck.

The fact is, we spend a lot of energy on things that are temporal and allow that which is eternal get pushed back until tomorrow. This, in light of the fact that we do have a fixed number of days (It is appointed unto man once to die), and that all men will stand before God and give an account for what he/she did with the Messiah of God. He/she will not be judged for his comparative righteousness or his education or heart for social justice…but for what he/she did with Jesus. In light of that…does not our daily concern for the temporal call us to repentance in light of its idolatrous pursuits.

I am dying! This is certain. If I am to be effective in my life and not squander the gift that God has given me, I must act AS IF it is at an unknown but very soon coming date and live purposefully and for the glory of God above all else. God deserves nothing less from me as I respond to His great grace toward me in giving me abundant life through salvation in His Son.