What I Learned Waiting for Dolphins

img_0983After watching the sunrise on the beach this morning and then getting coffee with my sisters, I headed out to the dock at our rented vacation home to sit and watch for dolphins.

There was no wind this morning, and the water was smooth and glassy and perfect, as you can see in the picture.

As I settled in to wait and hope for the dolphins’ arrival, I said half-heartedly to the sky, “God, I really want to see dolphins, and I really want them to come up to the dock.” All the while thinking, “It’s a little petty of me to ask the God of the universe to interrupt the course of nature just to make me happy. But whatever. I know it’s just a dumb request so I won’t expect it.”

And dropping my one sided conversation, I spent the next twenty or thirty minutes just soaking in the view. I marveled at the way the water rippled and changed with the breeze, or when a water bird landed, or a boat passed. The patterns and movement were incredible, intricate. I watched as a duck flew past and listened to the solid thrush, thrush, thrush of its wings. I listened to the clarinet voice of another duck as it swam out to join its pal. My eyes and heart hungrily ate up the changing reds and golds of the water grasses as the sun rose higher. A seagull landed on one of the posts of our dock and just sat there looking around, looking at me, taking in the view the whole time. Each of these sights and sounds served to nourish my heart and refresh me in ways that only the act of being still out in creation can accomplish.

And then, the dolphins came. I heard them before I saw them, the sound of air and water clearing from their blow holes. And when I turned my head to identify the sound, there they were. For an hour and a half I watched them surfacing and diving, surfacing and diving. Playing in the estuary back and forth, back and forth. My family saw them from the house and came to join me. We all sat in total wonder, ecstatic at seeing the dolphins for so long. And finally, one decided to head out to open water and swam about ten feet away from the dock on its way.

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During the hour or so while I was watching the dolphins, a thought struck me. I had asked God for one gift – to see dolphins, and close up. But while I was waiting for that gift, trying to soak in every moment, he gave me so many more gifts – the seagull who kept me company, the light on the water grass, the sound of the duck’s call, the ripples on the water, the thrush of the bird’s wings. I only wanted one gift, but God had so many to give me.

It makes me not want to miss out on any of the gifts God has for me in the rest of my life. I want to truly SEE what is around me every moment, so that I can accept all of the gifts he places in my path, not just the ones I THINK I want.

Today also reminded me that he has much better things in store for me than I can even ask for myself.

Later in the day, we all went to dinner and drove and hiked out to one of the island light houses. And what do you know, but there were MORE dolphins, and SO CLOSE to shore. Close enough that I got to run alongside them, laughing and yelling “Hi!” to them over and over. I think they must have liked my high pitched giggling, because once we reached a place along the beach where the water was deeper and the shoreline abruptly dropped away like a shelf, two of the dolphins swam carefully straight towards me. They bumped their noses out of the water toward me as if to say hello, before turning tail and heading back along the shoreline (they must have been only six feet away!). It was THE BEST MOMENT of my entire year. I could hardly believe it! Not only did I get to see dolphins, like I half-heartedly requested of my Heavenly Father, but they came up and said “Hi!” right back to me.

If the God of the universe cares enough to direct my steps into the path of friendly dolphins to give me such a beautiful, miraculous moment, I cannot help but believe that as I ask him for the larger desires of my heart, of my life, that he has even better gifts in store for me than I can ask for.

I think I spent a lot of time this year fearfully wondering if I will be disappointed with what God has in store for me. And I think he proved to me today that my fear is unfounded. Every moment holds gifts from God if I will only look around and see them. And even the desires that I specifically ask for, God will fulfill them in an even more spectacular fashion than I could imagine as I surrender my heart and life to him (whether that means he gives me what I ask for or gently turns my heart to something else that he has for me).

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

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