I have admired the graceful bottlenose dolphin since my teens when I spent time at the Atlantic beach. A friend later gave me this ceramic dolphin which has been jumping out of its ceramic ocean wave for more years than I wish to calculate. (Thanks again, Sheila Graber.)
I often see it in front of my computer monitor and think about how God created dolphins to live in the water, but breathe air from the atmosphere. I think about how He created humans to live in the world but desperately need spiritual breath from Him.
I wanted to dig into this analogy, so I read about dolphins. That was educational. According to the World Book there are over thirty types of ocean dolphins and half a dozen river dolphins. They do not all look like my nice gray ceramic dolphin.
Killer whales are dolphins! Some of them even eat smaller dolphins. The Bible may not mention dolphins but it does say something about that behavior: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Galatians 5:15)
The very next verse talks about the importance of walking in the Spirit. Do my actions (springing from my thoughts) fit best in the kingdom of this world or the kingdom of God? If I care what kingdom I belong to and become heir to later, walking in the Spirit matters. Remembering that others are also walking in the same Spirit should remind me to encourage them on, not elbow them off the path.
Dolphins care for each other if injured, and even help other species out of dangerous situations. I think I can learn from that. It may not be comfortable to help someone not in my social circle or family, but who is promised a comfortable life here? In church life, speaking truth about sin observed in someone’s life could help them avoid a dangerous situation. I want others to approach me if I seem to be in danger. Well, to be more honest, I want to want them to approach me.
As I considered the variety in dolphin species, I thought about how easy it is to think people different from me are wrong. Often I may just not understand their background, or what they are aiming to accomplish.
It is true that not every “Christian” (or dolphin) is genuine. I am to judge fruit, mine included.
It is also true that there are many things dolphins and humans do not have in common. For just one example, dolphins do not write blog posts, and if they did write them, they probably would not try so hard to include a fun photo of people made of fruit.
When Isaiah was learning to talk several months ago, he would come to my desk sometimes and indicate he wanted up. I would hold him on my lap. Next he would point at things he wanted to hold, and I would let him hold something from the desk. One day when he was holding my ceramic dolphin, he said, “Pig.”
I laughed and said, “Dolphin, not pig!” Now that he is older, we have advanced in our communication. He says, “Get up here.” I hold him. He says, “You want dolphin.” Sometimes I require that he say “Please.” He holds it, and usually before he is done playing with it he will look up at me with a gleam in his eye and say, “Pig.” I say, “Dolphin.” He says, “Pig.” I say, “Dolphin!” and we laugh.
That may be our little game, but it sobers me to think how much influence I have on him in identifying objects, people, responses, etc. With God’s help I want to live in such a way that he and others can see that my Christianity is not something ceramic and cold, molded and painted to look just so. It should be living and warm, Spirit sustained. It should be responding to needs and cares around me. It should be helping, but also willing to be helped.