On Dolphins, Boats, and Letting Go

Have you ever had one of those times when you know God sent you a message? Or at least the irony seems too obvious to ignore so you think just maybe He did? Now I’m not talking about one of those euphoric “Ah Ha” moments when the heavens open. I’m describing more like a punch in the gut. That’s what happened to me today.

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

I’m reading the third Donald Miller book my best friend, Barbie, sent me for my birthday, Searching for God Knows What and I came across,

“The formulas propose that if you do this and this and this, God will respond. When I was a kid I wanted a dolphin for the same reason.”

Ouch! I winced because I remembered that just this morning I took a screen shot of this:

That beady-eyed dolphin (conveniently placed next to my posts about writing) just stared right at me. I thought it was smirking at me but I didn’t know quite why. I was too excited about someone finding my writing to think too much about the dolphin. To be truthful, my real thoughts were “Why does a stupid dolphin have to be next to my writing?

Why can’t it be a colorful lorikeet like on the freshly pressed “Dressed to Quill” or one of my own photos? Vain, I know. Then I read the post, “The Day the Dolphin Laughed at Me,” that went with the dolphin picture and quenched my folly with forgiveness request (Sorry Brenda, I really do love your meaningful post, but the dolphin did laugh at you!).

After reading Miller’s words, my heart sank. I wondered, “Do I want God to be like a trained dolphin? If I follow the steps, He gives me all of the answers in advance. I’ll know exactly what to do next week, next year, in five…ten…or twenty years. I’ll never have to feel depressed and confused again?”

“Darn it,” I sulked. Just this morning I had seriously contemplated writing a Step-by-Step God Can Heal You self-help book. Then I thought the better of it and tried to describe how I really felt when my former life was falling apart:

“The storm hurled and heaved us against the sides of our capsizing boat. The violent waves tore apart the wood and lodged splinters of failure deep into our flesh, our souls, our spirits. Eventually, we crashed upon those rocks.”

My thoughts jolted back to the present and I read further in Miller’s book,

“…God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather rely on His guidance, His existence, and His love.”

For a moment, I thought I got it! This writer’s life, just like my life of faith, is not going to be as easy as I had hoped. Sure, I’ll study the lessons and apply myself the best I can. I’m a teacher and that’s what we teachers do! But we teachers also love formulas, simple solutions that we learn and try to do but that never fully work with real kids.

I came to my senses saying, “I’m God’s kid and He loves me too much to allow me to think I could ever turn Him into a trained dolphin!” I’m just going to have to trust Him and learn about letting go!

I also worried that Donald Miller would think I plagiarized him… until I remembered I’m a nobody and he will probably never read my books anyway.

(Maybe I’ll leave Donald a comment just to be on the safe side: “Hi, I love your books so I’m shamelessly promoting you and no, I didn’t plagiarize the bit about the boat or the dolphin. God just works in mysterious ways!)

3 Replies to “On Dolphins, Boats, and Letting Go”

  1. A pastor once said that if God gave us a two year plan, He wouldn’t hear from us for two years — so we have to trust Him and have faith He will provide. Not so easy as that two or five year plan.


    1. WOW! What truth! I get so tripped up with the process rather than the relationship. At the end of the day, I’m sure glad God doesn’t consent to becoming a trained dolphin! Thank you for these words of encouragement.


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