I stood transfixed on the lanai, watching a river otter cavort on the opposite bank of the small pond behind my rented condo. It rolled on its back in the grass, stood up, then threw itself down and rolled some more before finally slinking back into the water and swimming away.
Now I don’t know if otters feel joy; I kind of doubt it. For all I know, its back was itching and that’s how otters scratch. But that creature was so playful and unguarded, so totally in the moment, I couldn’t help but smile.
I’ve felt the same pleasure watching dolphins frolic alongside a boat or kayak. They leap out of the water with those ubiquitous grins and seem for all the world to be truly enjoying themselves. Are they? I don’t know, but something about them makes my spirit soar.
We humans learn to curb that kind of behavior in ourselves early on. We find out that if we eat the ice cream too fast, we’ll get a “brain freeze”, if we climb too high in the tree, we’ll fall. We learn to sip our coffee so we don’t burn our mouths and to sing with a little less gusto so no one laughs. We tamp down our enthusiasm for a variety of reasons.
Often we “go easy” out of necessity, and that’s understandable. A friend tells me in his family there was always an unwritten “FHB” rule when company stayed for dinner: Family Hold Back, i.e., don’t pig out or there won’t be enough for our guests. Watch your portions, watch your manners.
Do you ever wish there was something you could throw yourself into without reservation? You know, do the otter thing or the dolphin thing? A thrill you could pursue without worrying about getting hurt or humiliated; deliciousness you wouldn’t have to sip and skimp on, but instead just gulp it down, knowing it would never run out?
If we let it, that can describe our experience of God. I believe when we look for His hand in everything and accept our very lives as a gift from Him, we are enjoying – even “consuming” – Him in a uniquely helpful way. When we see all things as coming from Him and trust that His purpose is always to grow us, not to harm us, we find ourselves filled up with Him and our adoration naturally overflows.
There’s a line in the song “Blessed Be Your Name” that says, “Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise. And when the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say: Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When we accept the goodness and faithfulness of God, and choose to bless His name – even in the dark times – He gives us an unfailing portion of Himself. We can know that He will nourish and protect us and that the joy He has prepared for us has no limits.
I choose that.
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- Maybe This Will Help - February 10, 2017
- I’m Firing Olivia Pope - January 24, 2017
- I’m crossing some things off my list this year - January 11, 2017
- I learned a new word - November 30, 2016
- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016