Whale Watching and a Lesson in Surrendering Control


Also posted at The New Evangelist, Companions of the Cross

This summer while on vacation in Newfoundland,Canada with my husband and three youngest children, we did the thing that all tourists to this beautiful eastern province have to do. We went whale watching on the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather in Newfoundland is a very tricky thing. It can be warm and sunny one minute but then in no time at all the winds pick up, the temperature drops and summer weather turns into autumn weather all in a day. We picked one of those unpredictable weather days to go see the whales.

Every parent knows that sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone for the sake of our kids, especially when they have their heart set on an activity or event and look to us to be part of it. As we got into the small, 12-person boat, the waves were picking up but our experienced guide assured us that the boat has been through more challenging conditions. As much as I really didn’t want to get in, my husband and kids had already boarded and so I thought: “how bad could it be?”

As the boat sailed farther away from land, I got my answer. It was windy offshore and that resulted in choppy conditions. The boat lifted, listed from side to side and generally did things that scared the life out of me. I held on for dear life to the railing that quickly became my best friend.

Trying to keep a brave face while watching waves come up the side of the boat and spray us, I envisioned that the apostles must have felt the same kind of fear when the storm came up on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus continued to sleep in the boat. Granted, their situation was worse than mine but for me it was stormy enough. I knew that I had no control over the situation and so as the feeling of queasiness intensified, I surrendered my fear to Jesus. In my frightened state, I prayed. “OK Lord, You’re in charge here. Do what You’re gonna do.” I gripped the bar tighter as the boat continued to be buffeted by the waves and we all got soaked. I was scared but I trusted that Jesus had it all under control, whatever that meant. Mercifully, we made it back safely to shore and as my kids disembarked, they laughed that “it was just like being on a roller coaster!”

Although the purpose of the boat trip was to see whales, we didn’t see any. We saw a variety of birds and a few small cave-like islands that served as nesting grounds. We had to alter our expectations and appreciate what was before us in the present moment – sights that were magnificent and showed God’s awesome creation and power.

If we try to keep an open mind, we can learn valuable lessons in all situations and the whale watching experience was no exception. Often in life we have to do things for the love of another person – things we never thought we would do. We are created to go and be and do for others even when the winds pick up and we are rocked by choppy waves and storms.  In those times Jesus’ voice is loud and clear as He reminds us that we aren’t meant to live our lives in fear and complacency. And when our plans are not His plans, what He Wills for us is beyond what we imagined.

The afternoon of whale watching reminded me that control is an illusion, self-sufficiency is a facade and a life lived for others is challenging and invigorating. Just when we think we have it all figured out, the winds pick up, the waves toss us about and the Lord will always find a way to show us that He is indeed the Master of everything that happens to us.

Illustration courtesy of photobucket.com

Deo Gratias

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8 Responses to Whale Watching and a Lesson in Surrendering Control

  1. “I was scared but I trusted that Jesus had it all under control, whatever that meant.”<–THIS! Especially the "whatever that meant." It reads so trusting, but whenever I say it out loud, or even in the silence of a prayerful mind, it comes out sounding sarcastic. Thanks for sharing your lesson.

  2. GLudlam says:

    Nice! Courage doesn’t mean not being afraid, and it doesn’t mean always being in control. It means putting your trust in Christ. I had a similar experience once, but I was the one piloting the boat. The other lesson He taught me then was to keep my little boat a bit closer to shore! 🙂 Thanks for the article.

  3. reinkat says:

    I enjoyed this post a lot. Trusting, and giving up control. That’s a lesson that I need to have repeated for myself over and over again. I don’t seem to learn too quickly!

  4. Anabelle @Written By The Finger of God says:

    Love this post Terry. I too am learning that God is a far better ship captain than I can be. Don’t hog the rails, will you? 😉

  5. LOL! There’s always room for you, Annabelle!

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