Discovering the Underwater Treasure
Where is your sweet spot for experiencing God’s presence?
What longing do you wish he would fulfill?
I experience God’s presence most fully when I snorkel. I love the peace that comes over me as I shut out the noise of the world and enter into the realm of “underwater life.”
It makes me smile each time I see a different fish, with their bright colors, creative shapes and varied habits, as they swim through and around their underwater coral castles!
Seeking a Sea Turtle Adventure
My favorite snorkeling experience of all time was when my husband Bill and I were in Kona, Hawaii, a few years ago. We discovered two sea turtles and swam with them. I’ve never gotten to swim with sea turtles since, and I’ve been longing to replicate that heavenly experience.
While on vacation in Hawaii last week, our family went three times to the same beach where Bill and I previously swam with the sea turtles. I like to call it the “secret beach” because I love how secluded it is--and how filled it is with opportunities to experience God through the different places in the water.
Day 1: Delightful snorkeling, saw many new fish I’d never seen before, but no sea turtles.
Day 2: Spent an hour snorkeling, but no sea turtles.
Later that day, I realized that I’d been so preoccupied with snorkeling and wanting to see the sea turtles that I hadn’t been communing with our Creator. When I realized that, I immediately started to thank God for his awesome underwater creation.
And boom….all of a sudden, there was a sea turtle. He literally emerged out of nowhere!
Swimming with the Sea Turtles
We spent about 45 minutes swimming together. At times, I swam on top of him, and other times at his side while I looked into his eyes. It seemed as if he was inviting me to discover more about his true personality, his identity.
The next day our family went snorkeling again.
This time I decided I was going to start praising our Creator right away. As I donned my flippers and walked duck-like into the water, I was already thanking God:
“You are the God of all creativity….your gifts to me are so astounding. Thank you for all the life you created in the water.”
And, almost before I took my first breath underwater, there was another sea turtle. It seemed like he’d been waiting for me, as if we had an appointment!
We swam together for a long time….close to two hours.
He took me into a new part of the ocean that I’d never experienced before; one that was so vibrant with colorful coral and creative fish. I thought my heart would burst with joy.
At one point, he took me to meet his partner, the sea turtle I swam with the previous day. I got to observe their interaction together before she went back into her cave. (Okay, do turtles fall in love? Maybe not, but in my imagination, I saw their flirtatious relationship!)
God Fills our Heart’s Desires
My heart’s desire was fulfilled last week through snorkeling. However, the deep place of pleasure and peace came only when I began to thank God and praise him for his good gifts in my life.
I realized as I reflected upon this situation that my longing to swim with the sea turtles wasn’t fulfilled until “I began to thank God and praise him.”
And, it was immediately fulfilled when I started out praising him!”
Those two words: until and when matter because they point to timing.
I began to wonder how many times I make a decision about something based on my earthly experience, but before I step out in faith and thank God for his desire and ability to fulfill my longings.
I think it happens all the time. I wonder what would shift if I took the step of faith first and thanked God for fulfilling my desires when everything around me points otherwise.
Phil 3:13-14 states:
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (the future), I press on to . . . receive the heavenly prize.”
I like to call it “Pulling the future into the Present.”
Pulling the Future into the Present
It’s not easy.
I’ll admit that.
It means we have to decide to “trust God” over what we feel or experience in our circumstances.
It can make us feel like a fraud or someone who exercises “name it and claim it” theology.
But, Hebrews 11:6 urges us:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Most of us believe he exists.
But, as I listen to people and often, myself, I wonder how much we believe the second part: that he rewards those who earnestly or sincerely or passionately, pursue him.
God is good at giving rewards in the midst of our faith training.
He gave me a reward last week when he fulfilled the deep desire within me to swim with sea turtles!
But, he also reminded me to remember the truth: He is a loving father who wants to give his beloved children good gifts.
When we align with this truth, we open up the door through our will for the good gifts to be poured out upon us.
A Practical Challenge
Here’s my challenge: Put this process to the test!
What do you long for? (Don’t call your desire frivolous. If it important to you, it is important to your heavenly father!)
After you decide what you truly long for, begin to thank God and praise him for his provision in your life. Agree to the Phil 3:13-14 Scripture: “I press on to receive the heavenly gift.”
Follow Hebrews 11:6, “God rewards those who passionately seek him.”
Pay attention and watch what God does!
It may happen immediately, as with the sea turtles, or it may take some time. But, don’t let your training be stolen from you….press in as Paul encourages us, and look up towards heaven as you reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly gifts for which God is calling us.” (Phil. 3:14)
I’d love to hear your journey….as together we encourage and pray for one another!