Surrounded by Sharks and Stingrays: Control Freaks’ Senility, Part 5

by | May 17, 2012 | Control, Control Freaks' Senility, Fear, Trials, Trust

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NIV)

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matt 6:33-34 The Message)

Stingrays are renowned for their flat diamond-shape bodies and their long, finless, whip-like tails that contain poison-filled barbed spines. Sharks are renowned (thanks to Jaws!) for their deadly teeth. With these facts in mind, how would you feel if you were to find yourself surrounded by at least thirty 3-5 feet stingrays, and at least twenty 8-12 feet sharks, representing at least three different species?

“Get me out of here!”

It is in such situations that you quickly realize that you are completely out of control, no matter what you do, and if you try to take charge of the situation, you will likely only put yourself even more at risk of injury!

There are some however who would choose to be around such creatures. Most of these would likely be considered to be entrapped in their own senility. Some, however, would fall in the class of overeager tourist, and still others would find themselves in this situation because they have been hired by such tourists. Sad to say, but I belong in the group of overeager tourists. You may not want to travel with me!

We had taken a powerboat excursion to one of the isolated islands in Exuma, Bahamas, and our guide gave us the opportunity to feed these intriguing sea creatures. The stingrays were first. We were given fresh cuts of fish to be held between two fingers, and we were asked to line up and kneel down in the shallow water (quite a humbling experience with over-the-hill kneecaps!).

“Do not turn your back on the stingrays and especially do not run away from them!” Instructed our guide. “The consequences would not be in your best interest! Also do not try to pet them!”

Quite reassuring don’t you think?

“Avoid having your fingers sucked up into their mouth!”

Some of my fellow “overeager” tourists turned back at this. They weren’t sure they could resist running away when these 5 feet creatures came near. My boys and I, however, were either brave, or too foolish to realize what kind of a situation we were putting ourselves in, for we had our knees firmly planted on the ocean floor, literally begging the stingrays to come for their goodies.

And come they did! At first they caressed our limbs with their soft, rubbery bodies, and then they came for the fish between our fingers. Boy can they suck! I had a huge one in front of me, and being completely unused to this technique, some of my fingers ended up being sucked into its mouth. Oh no!

My initial impressions were that the mouth was soft and rubbery. I never got beyond my initial impressions, however, as I didn’t want to leave them there for future generations. I quickly pulled my hand back to safety… and then counted my fingers just to make sure they were all still there!

For some reason, some of the girls in our group were screaming and others were slowly retreating to the beach, and it wasn’t long before only the hardiest among us were still in the water.

All too soon the stingray experience was over and the shark story began. Our guide wouldn’t let anyone feed these except himself. He claimed it was because he didn’t want any of his guests to lose body parts, and none of us spent any time arguing.

He was quite creative in his approach to “sharking”. He would attach a fish to a rope and throw it far out into the shark infested harbor. When one took the bait, he would then try to pull it ashore and lift it high up in the sky. When one of the sharks tried to escape, he simply grabbed it by the tail and gave it a kiss. To each his own!

Later on, while leading the more adventuresome of the group on a snorkelling expedition, this same guide went after a shark on the reef, grabbed its tail, and shook it back and forth. He sure made life thrilling to all of us!

In the end, no one got hurt because everyone obeyed the simple rules. Interestingly enough, most of us thought this was the best part of our trip! Who in their sane mind would ever put themselves in such a perilous situation?

It taught me an important lesson. Whenever I try to be in control of my life (and believe me it has become one of my busiest hobbies!), I damage myself more than anything else. Whenever I relinquish control to my wise Father, however, I not only find myself at peace, but I also end up being of a blessing to others. Imagine that!

Had I not trusted my guide in Exuma, had I decided to follow my own agenda, I probably would have ended up as shark bait. The same is true with our daily living. I need to continually remind myself every day to consciously hand over my position of control to God. Then I have to make the conscious effort to resist the urge to take back the helm at convenient moments. Otherwise I will feel the sting of my prideful actions.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NKJV)

Poisonous stingrays? Great white man-eating sharks? Child’s play as long as you trust in the Lord!

Rob Chaffart

(To access the entire “Control Freaks’ Senility” devotional series, please click here.)


Surrounded by Sharks and Stingrays: Control Freaks’ Senility, Part 5