Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beneath the Surface

It was even more beautiful than the postcards. Apart from the sharks.

I’d assumed the colors of the water I’d seen on posters from the Bahamas had been retouched. The ocean here on the west coast is pretty, but nothing like those pictures. But I was wrong; it really is that amazing. So while we were there in Nassau for my nephew’s wedding (, my husband and I just had to be part of the group that chartered a snorkeling boat so we could see more of it.

snorkeling above 2

The water looked so gorgeous from the boat that I could hardly wait to get into it. But as pretty as it was from the boat, it was even more stunning when we looked at what was beneath the surface. There was so much to see!

Color; shades of aqua ranging from a milky green to a more intense deep turquoise.

Clouds of reef fish and corals, French frigate shoals, NWHI

Beauty; the iridescent glow of tropical fish and the neon orange of the coral reef.

There was also danger.

At one point the boat stopped in deeper water and dropped a bait box about 40 feet down. What do you think arrived, expecting dinner? Caribbean reef sharks! We had the option, within very strict guidelines, to float on the surface and swim with them. I confess; I did hesitate. Swimming with sharks? Who does that? Turns out that when I’m in the Bahamas, I do!

reef shark

At first I didn’t see them; there was so much else to look at. Only when someone gestured wildly in their direction did I notice them— three of them swimming around the bait. It was like watching the TV show, “Shark Tank”. While my mind knew they were real, the sharks felt too distant to be frightening. When one of them swam a little closer, some of the people bolted out of the water. I didn’t; they just didn’t seem that sinister. Only when we were ordered out of the water did I comply. I really should have been more afraid.

Temptation is a lot like those sharks.

It often sneaks up on us just like that; while we are distracted, focused on something else. Occasionally someone else points out that it’s approaching, and I really need to pay attention. Because while it often seems innocuous, it poses a real danger.

Like sharks, temptations are stronger than I am, with a killer instinct. They circle around me at first, sensing my weakness but not coming too near. Fascinating, it’s hard to look away. It doesn’t seem possible that they will really hurt me. A little compromise, a little rationalizing, a little giving in…it loses its awfulness, and I allow it draw closer and closer. Until it’s too late to get away, and the damage done to my life, my witness, and my soul is unavoidable.

Because inevitably, when you swim with sharks you will get hurt.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. 1 Timothy 6:11-12a

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Further reflection:

  1. What is your first reaction when faced with temptation: flee, or stay put?
  2. What has happened in your life when temptation drew you in?
  3. How do you think God would have you handle temptation, considering the verses listed above?

Father, temptation often seems innocuous when I first look at it. Please give me Your eyes of discernment to see the danger of it, and to flee from it, drawing near to You instead. Thank You that with You there is a safe refuge from those things that would do damage to my soul.

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