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Wild Goose Chase November 5, 2017

Welcome to “The Wild Goose Chase!” The Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit “The Wild Goose” because it was untamed and smarter than any other bird.

Dear Sisters and Brothers: I remember that the snow on the ground was about 2 feet high, and we expected some more over the weekend that was coming. We headed for the railhead to load our vehicles and travel the 15 or so miles by railroad flatcar into Whittier, AK. That private airplane and boat by a round-about route were the only ways into the small fishing village.

It was a happy crew of Scuba Instructors and students, who had completed their classroom and pool training and were now ready for the open-water portion. The ocean off of Whittier was always about 46 or so degrees, except in winter, like now. In the winter it fluctuated between 46 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and salt (ocean) water freezes at 28.4 degrees. And we were getting close to that freezing point.

My instructing partner and I pitched our tent near the water, since there was not enough room in the three bedroom condo for all of us. I remember getting up and dressing for diving standing outside in that snow. I am not sure I would even attempt it now, I was younger and more hardy in those days.

The thing about winter diving in Alaska is that the cold and extended periods of dark keep plankton from blooming and the ocean is actually less murky during that time of the year. It is, in fact, quite clear and beautiful, if very cold.

We began our training dives around 10 am. The sun was up, but just barely. Different marine life is out at night than in the day. That morning, some of the marine life seemed to have forgotten that it was no longer night. I remember taking the 8 student divers down for their second dive of the day, and running smack into a 3 foot bull shark. They can be aggressive, but this one seemed more curious than anything. There were so many of us, that I suspect it kept the shark from becoming aggressive.

The students did well, except one person who became so concerned over the shark that he took his regulator out of his mouth, sucked in some ocean, and I had to take him to the surface where he felt safer, and could get himself under control and stop coughing. We then returned to the other instructor and students and completed the training dive.

The thing is, that student only got in the trouble he did because he forgot to rely on what he had been taught. And when he got in a tight spot, he panicked. It could have been much worse, but I worked alongside of him and we got through it, and finished his training.

Sometimes in life, we get in difficult spots, and then we have to have a way out of those spots. If we have a relationship with God; if we have come to faith in Jesus Christ; then we can rely on the Lord God. And, God will come alongside of us, helping us to pass through the challenging times. If we do not have a solid faith, then we tend to rely on our own strength, and often, we just are not strong enough to handle the difficult things. That is why I believe we all need that anchor in Christ. For, as the song says … “The Anchor Holds!”

Exodus 15 (NIRV) puts it this way: “Here is a song that Moses and the people of Israel sang to the Lord. They said, ‘I will sing to the Lord, He is greatly honored. He has thrown Pharaoh’s horses and chariot drivers into the Red Sea. The Lord gives me strength and protects me. He has saved me. He is my God, I will praise him…’”

Remember, God loves you and so do I, and all you can do about it is love back.

Still In One Peace,