The Dolphin

by Rhonda, August 11, 2023

We went on vacation to beautiful, sunny Florida last week.  It was a peaceful and relaxing time.  We brought our friends from Ukraine with us, and we spent a week hanging out at the beach.  We were all sad to board our flights home, because it was such a fun getaway.  

Don't you just love the waves washing up onto a beach?  The ocean is vast, beautiful and overwhelming.  Listening to the waves at night allows me to fall into the deepest sleep.  One of my favorite things about visiting Florida is the deep sleep I have while I'm there.

We spent an evening kayaking in a cove off the Florida coast.  It was a fun thing to do, but I learned that my son and I are terrible kayak partners.  I'm pretty sure our issues are all his fault, and he's pretty sure they're all my fault, but we do not row well in tandem.  We weren't at the back of the kayak group due to exhaustion, no.  We were at the back because we couldn't get our kayak to row straight due to our lack of ability to row in synchronization.

We were rowing against the current, struggling to keep up with the rest of the group.  It was dark, and we were ready to get home.  We began to bicker as we tried to right our course.

"Alex," I said, "row right, then left."

"I'm already doing that," he replied.

"Uh, I don't think so," 

And the arguments ensued while our guide chuckled at our disagreements.

And then I saw it.  A fin sticking out of the water coming towards us.  

"Alex, look!" 

He slowly put his oar down as the fin approached.

Then, not only did I see it, but I heard it.  The distinct sound of a dolphin breathing.  As we watched, the dolphin swam around our kayak, chasing a fish who was swimming for its life.  

It was incredible to hear the dolphin breathing, watching the outline of him while he chased a small fish around our kayak.  Watching it at night, listening to the dolphin move in the water felt like something out of a movie.  After all of our struggles, and after being in last place, we saw something no one else saw.  A wild dolphin so close we could touch it.

We sat there mesmerized, watching the whole thing while the rest of the group forged ahead.  After a few minutes, the dolphin moved on, and we caught up with the rest of the group.  We told them what had happened, but, I don't think everyone believed us.  Actually, I'm not sure anyone believed us.

But, I have to tell you, after that encounter, we didn't care if we were in last place and we didn't care if we rowed in tandem.  Our position had allowed us to see something that no one else saw.  Our focus was on what we could see next, not on trying to catch up with everyone else.

You know, we do a lot of angling in life for position.  We want to be first, we want to be the best, and we want to be recognized.  No one ever wants to be in last place.  But, what if last place allows us to see God's blessings in a whole new way?  What if we see something no one else sees when we're not trying to lead the crowd?

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last...

I wonder what would happen if we stopped worrying so much about how we rate against others.  Is second place really so terrible?  Is last place the worst thing that could happen to us?  Does God really care about our position?


Instead of trying to be the best, instead of trying to please everyone, maybe we should stop worrying about it.  Instead, what would happen if we focused our goals around loving God and loving others?  According to God, whatever position we land in doesn't really matter.  What matters is whether we loved those in front of us.  Last place might actually have the biggest blessings, depending on how we approach it.  

First place never lasts, anyways.  It always has to be defended.  It comes with a tremendous amount of pressure.  But, if our goal is to love those around us, well that seems to be pretty simple.  It takes the pressure off, and lets us relax and exit the rat race.  We don't have to be perfect.  We just have to love.

By the time Alex and I got to shore, everyone else had already gotten out of their kayaks and they were loading their things into their vehicles, getting ready to go home.  But, Alex and I wanted to stand on the shore and stare out into the water, still amazed by the sight we saw.  The others had already moved onto other things, accomplishing the next items on their task lists.  But, we were still in the moment, reliving our experience.

I turned to my son while we looked at the water.  "They all missed it."

"I'm glad we were last," he said.

"Me too."

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