During the traditional Christmas day beach walk a couple of years ago, we saw a pod of Right Whales migrating south. The beach walk tradition was born my first Christmas in Florida and the Seattle cousins began joining in every year as we merged our holiday frolicking with some family time. We have been known to walk as far as 6 miles north and back. Our conversation rambles between family stories, our world travels through the last year, kite flying, genealogy, books we’ve been reading, and the occasional, “Look at that bird!”
Our discussion took a tangent as we all saw the whales at once. We could hear the blowhole exhalation of air each time they surfaced punctuated by a cloud of spray just above them. They were not moving quickly to the south because they appeared to be swimming around in the same area. Finally, a large one surfaced mouth wide open scooping up a celebratory meal of whatever unfortunate sea creatures were haunting our coastal waters.
The whales and the waves were not the whole symphony of heaven and nature singing, and we almost missed the other movements. Navigating the feast in harmony with the whales were dolphins, their dorsal fins surfacing frequently and the occasional tail whipping out of the water as they dove for their next bite. With a backdrop of blue sky, birds were flying in a circular pattern over the whales and dolphins. Pelicans would dive-bomb along the periphery and come up, nonchalantly floating as they finished eating.
We learned from a fisherman that the dolphins and birds feed on the whale food remains and that there were probably sharks out enjoying the communal celebration. This gentleman had caught a 40-pound shark the day before. When my cousin asked what he does with a shark of that size, he replied, “Throw him back. What would anyone do with a shark that size?”
Truly this beach experience was a trip back to creation especially highlighting day five when God created life in the waters and birds to fill the sky.
The story of creation begins shrouded in mystery, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV). He begins with nothing but the presence of His Spirit spread over the face of waters in the darkness.
As we continue reading, the story begins to unfold and bloom from mystery into a picture of a God who is creative, yet intentional. He is present and immersed through His Spirit in every step and detail of the creation process. What appeared as a basic structure in the first three days defining the air and water, earth and sky, light and dark, progressed into the abundance of plant life, birds, sea creatures, animals, and finally man and woman.
The Spirit of God hovered within the earth at creation, and the Bible tells us the Spirit has remained. David asks, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence” (Psalm 139:7 ESV)? He answers his own question in verses 8-12,
"If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you" (ESV).
As Jesus prepared his disciples for His death, He explained how He must go for them to receive the Comforter and Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was promised to be with them and in them, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17 ESV).
Jesus walked as a human and maintained a rhythm of connection with His Father as He served those around Him. No doubt the hovering Spirit around Him and within Him was His lifeline as He loved and served mankind, and He promised that same Spirit to His disciples and to us when He left.
The North Atlantic Right Whale is endangered with an estimated 400 remaining. The summer after we saw these whales, a few more were reported to die for unexplained reasons in the North Atlantic. Similar to how the whales are endangered, we are in even greater danger if our hearts are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
Since the dawn of earth’s time, the Spirit has been hovering around humankind and ready to live in the hearts of God’s people as soon as we offer the invitation. What stops us from asking for the Holy Spirit to be poured into our hearts every day? Early in his ministry Jesus encouraged us to ask, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 ESV).
The whales and dolphins, pelicans and gulls, music of the waves, and brilliant sunshine all sing of the presence of the Spirit of God around us. They seek and hover around the food they need until they are full. We can’t hide from the Spirit, but we need to seek and ask for the Spirit to make a residence within us.
Call to Action
Let’s not pass a day without asking for the Spirit to pour over us and indwell within us because there we will live in the abundance of God’s love and become like Jesus.