You’re never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream. –C.S. Lewis
It’s not often you get an invitation to stay at a friend’s sea-front home on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, combined with an offer to take you scuba-diving every day. Bonaire is one of the most beautiful and easiest places in the world to dive. There are no sharks and lots of shore access points where you can gear-up and walk right in.
All my wife, Pam, and I had to do to accept this kindness was to buy our plane tickets and get certified to dive.
Saying yes to Bonaire had a financial cost. Besides the plane tickets, there was the initial investment: diving certification classes and various equipment to purchase or rent. God has always provided faithfully for all our needs—sometimes miraculously—but there’s never been much margin. Then there was the sacrifice of time. The only classes available involved six all-day Sundays in a row and reading in between. Some of our Christian friends frowned on the Sunday commitment: “Church should be important.” After all, scripture says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Heb. 10:26, NLT)
Others viewed it as an incredible opportunity and encouraged us to seize the day. They saw life as bigger than a church’s program. They also viewed Heb. 10:26 as referring to an important overall lifestyle habit that six weeks of diving classes wasn’t going to break. They spoke life and supported expanding our worlds.
I’m grateful for those later voices. They said carpe diem when others offered a cage. They refreshed when others repressed. They encouraged delight when others saw only duty.
So, what did we do? Viewing our friend’s invitation as a once in a life-time opportunity and in celebration of my fiftieth birthday, we decided to go for it and become certified divers. It wasn’t an easy accomplishment, especially for me because I did most of the class blind as a bat. My glasses, which of course I couldn’t wear underwater, are super thick. What’s more, for 90% of the class I didn’t have prescription lenses in my mask. I thought Pam would be the one to have trouble getting certified, but it was me! The truth is, we were all surprised I even passed, the instructor included. By the way, if you decide to become a certified diver and can’t see very well, I recommend getting customized lenses in your mask before you start the class. Just sayin’.
But here are the bigger questions: Was the choice to say yes to Bonaire worth it? Was the dream worth all the hard work, money, and time? Absolutely.
Scuba-diving on the coral reef is like gliding weightless through an amazing world teaming with colorful fish, plants, and animal life (believe it or not, coral is an animal!). In fact, despite Disney’s Finding Nemo being child’s animated fiction, it really captures well the energy and brilliant-colored happenings under the sea. Snorkeling also gives a view into this multi-colored, busy wonderland. Diving is unique, however, in that it’s much more immersive and offers an experience like flying in a kaleidoscopic three-dimensional reality. It really was and is and incredible experience. We just returned from our second trip. Pam completed her twenty-second dive and I my twenty-first.
By the way, I have to wear my prescription goggles beginning when we gear-up at the truck just so I can walk safely down to the water. Yes, I’m sure to fellow travelers I look less like a fashionista despite my James Bond wet suit. But at least that makes me less of a liability to Pam, our friends, and myself. 🙂
Given our experience, I do hope you’re inspired and get an opportunity to at least try snorkeling. More importantly, I hope:
- You don’t let challenges or fear of what others think keep you from celebration, delight, and experiences that will grow, stretch, and expand your horizons.
- That if you get a diving in the Carribean-like opportunity, you will do your best to say yes and make it happen.
- You’re committed to your local church, but always in a way that encourages and empowers others (including yourself) to seize the day.