Friday, September 30, 2011

Ponies and the Presence of God

CC image courtesy of david.nikonvscanon on Flickr

~  Sitting on the bow of the pontoon boat looking into the face of the wind,  my anticipation grew.  My husband, Jeremy and I had boarded Daisey's Dockside Nature Cruises earlier that morning holding the promise of a brochure,  which boasted some of the greatest opportunities for viewing island wildlife.  The journey was to be the highlight of our trip to Chincoteague Island,  Virginia.  Made famous by its wild ponies depicted in the children's book,  Misty of Chincoteague,  the island was a welcome retreat for travelers who just wanted to escape the daily grind.  Filling my lungs with the Chesapeake Bay air,  I could see why.  For myself,  being so close to the ocean brought childhood memories flooding to the present.  Memories of visiting my grandmother when she lived by the sea both refreshed and nurtured my soul.  The intrigue of the island ponies only further excited the little girl living inside of me.

“Woof! Woof!” Bailey barked,  running up to the bow.  His owner, Captain Tom had trained the little dog to scout dolphins,  much to our amusement at the beginning of the trip.  However,  while barking had attracted the curiosity of dolphins,  silence was needed as we scoured the island for wild ponies.  Captain Tom shushed Bailey before informing us that the ponies were being allusive that morning.  “They're usually in three places,” he explained.  My heart sank a little as our guide further informed us that we had already visited two of the animals' grazing spots.

Now as I sat at the front of the pontoon boat,  my eyes scanning the horizon,  I let my heart gain hope again.  Nearing land,  Captain Tom suddenly cut the boat's engine.  As the boat glided to a halt,  everyone stood up to see the main attraction they had paid to see that day.  Handing me his binoculars,  Jeremy smiled and pointed.  Being a bit uncoordinated with the device,  I stared up into the sky and down into the marshy land before pointing it in the right direction.  Finally finding my target,  I was delighted to observe two ponies through the lens—one tan and white,  the other a dark chocolate.  Nearby,  a bush rustled and the head of a blond pony peaked though the foliage.  A few seconds later,  it moved to reveal the rest of its beauty.  All the while,  the small horses' manes whipped wildly in the wind,  and I was left to wonder in awe at these mysterious inhabitants on a peaceful island.  The brochures were right—the sight was breathtaking.

As Captain Tom slowly started the engine,  I sat down with the satisfaction of knowing I had just witnessed a very special part of God's creation.  With that knowledge,  I knew God also had a message to teach me.  A few days after my trip it soon struck me that sometimes we look and look for God,  while it doesn't always seem like He is there.  I have experienced such seasons of life,  in which God seems too far away. Sometimes,  I become so caught up in my circumstances that I no longer see Him or feel His presence.  In those moments,  I believe we must remember to not lose hope.  You may have heard the motto,  “Don't get your hopes up.”  If you're like me,  you may have lived that motto.  I did so to protect my heart.  That way,  I would never be disappointed if someone didn't come through for me,  or if something I wanted didn't come to pass.  While many of us may still use this defensive thought process to prevent ourselves from uncomfortable heartache,  I think it is important that we remember not to apply it to God.  On the contrary,  we must always continue to get our hopes up when it comes to God.  For,  while things may still happen that we do not understand,  one thing is certain--God's nature always has and always will remain constant and good.  (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 34:8)  While we may feel like His absence surrounds us in a moment,  we can not allow ourselves to forget that He is always with us.  (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5)  Sometimes we only need to refocus our spiritual binoculars to see Him.  ~

Bailey the First Mate helping us look for ponies
"Misty of Chincoteague" statue

Jeremy enjoying the cruise