Banana Boats, Dolphins, and God

Scott Jones – Gilbert Campus Pastor

Out of nowhere God appeared!

Ever have that happen? Ever seen God in a powerful way? Maybe you don’t feel like you see God at all. God is all around us but there are reasons why we don’t see him. Do you know what they are?

There we were sitting on the sand. It was #SpringBreak2017. My wife Donita and I had gone down to Rocky Point with our daughter Morgan, our son Noah, and some of their friends. It was a perfect day. The weather was in the high 70s, the breeze was light, and the ocean was like glass. The only problem was we hadn’t seen any dolphins. We wanted to see dolphins. We talked to some people earlier in the day and they had seen dolphins earlier in the morning just off the shore.

So we busied ourselves with the traditional beach activities like looking for shells, digging holes in the sand, and jockeying for position to get the best shade from the umbrella. Yes umbrella, singular. And it was drooping to one side. But I’m not going to get into who forgot the umbrellas… That is for another blog.

Then we saw something familiar. If you’ve ever been to Rocky point or on other beaches for that matter you may have seen it: the infamous Banana Boat! If you’ve never seen one, imagine a 15-foot inflatable banana being pulled behind a motorized boat and you’ve pretty much got it. Perhaps a 10-minute ride on the banana would take the kids minds off of the disappointment of not seeing any dolphins today. It was worth the negotiated $20 price for all five of them.

And then it happened. That moment that we were not expecting. That thing that was furthest from our mind. All of the sudden, as soon as they were on the banana and moving forward, disappointment turned to a delight! Not because they were having so much fun on the banana but out of nowhere a pod of dolphin appeared and begin to swim alongside the banana. Back and forth and with every turn the dolphins stayed in sync with the banana.

The kids had only hoped to see a dolphin out in the distance through a set of binoculars. But now they were close enough to almost touch them. In fact, Morgan fell off of the banana (and I believe on purpose) to see if a dolphin would come near so she could pet it. And these were not dolphins in captivity that you pay to see do tricks. they were wild and free and choosing to put on a show by their own free will. There was something glorious about this moment.

As I watched all of this from the edge of the water I was captured by the presence of God. These dolphins swimming like that, it was as if God had invited his creation to delight our kids and their friends and to reveal his love and glory. And they were delighted to put on a show!

I believe there are signs of God all around us, but do we notice?

It made me wonder if we saw dolphins because we were looking for them. And it makes me wonder if we would see God more if we were looking for him.

Moses saw a burning bush that was not being consumed by the fire. And when he approached it found out Almighty God was in the flame. What would’ve happened if he never looked close enough to see that the bush was not being consumed by the fire? (Exodus 3:3-4)

I’m reminded of the story of Esther. She was a Jewish girl who rose to be Queen of the Persian empire at the precise time when there was a plot to exterminate the entire Jewish race.  She was there for “such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) God used her influence to save her people. And though the name of God is not mentioned once in the book, his fingerprints are on every page.

A Jewish carpenter was crucified on a cross. It was an ordinary day in Roman rule. But it turned out this was no ordinary man. And the thief on the cross next to him knew it. He said, “Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (Luke 23:39-42)

In the Kingdom of God, things are not what they appear at first glance.

There are often hidden meanings or greater stories or more profound applications of truth than we originally perceive.

All three of these people were changed and the story of God was changed as a result of their ability to see God. But it could have been different. They could have missed seeing God altogether.

  • Moses could have missed God in the ordinary because he didn’t look close enough.
  • Esther could have missed God in the subtle because she didn’t look hard enough.
  • The thief on cross could have missed God in the pain because he didn’t look long enough.

Where are you most likely to miss seeing God – in the ordinary, in the subtle, or in the pain? Do you miss seeing God because you didn’t look close enough or hard enough or long enough?

Try this. Start noticing God. Look for him. Choose to see him in ordinary: in your ordinary home, your ordinary spouse, your ordinary kids, your ordinary job. Look for him in the subtle: in situations that you normally chalk up to coincidence, in the nudge of a friend, in the Bible verse you read. Look for him in the pain: in the betrayal of a friend, the loss of a loved one, the death of a dream.

God is all around us. He is revealing himself in the ordinary, in the subtlety, and in the pain. Look closer, look harder, look longer, and you will see.


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Banana Boats, Dolphins, and God

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About The Author
- I am the programming coordinator at Central Christian Church AZ. I also moderate the Central Teaching Blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!