When it comes to gifts, there are two kinds: the kind you ask for and expect, and the kind you don’t ask for and don’t expect. The asked for and expected gift might fill a need or a want. The unexpected gift, however, delivers pure delight. Our heavenly Father especially loves to delight his children; He longs to show us gifts that will fill us with joy and wonder. On the beach in the Dominican Republic, I received such a gift.
The breeze gently lifted the tent flaps as my eyes creaked open. I had just spent my first night on Playa Fronton. My hips and shoulders were stiff from sleeping on the hard ground. I slowly turned over to find that my tent-mate was already up. How long had I slept? It felt like only an hour or two, though I knew that I had in fact been lying in my sleeping bag since 9 p.m. the previous night.
I sat up and ran my fingers through my hair. Time to show the world how I really look in the morning. Lucky world. I parted the tent flaps and was greeted with the view of palm tree silhouettes and rose-tinted clouds in the distance. Mounds and streaks of clouds kept the sun from view while soft air brushed around me. The waters of the Caribbean shone muted grays and blues against the clouds.
I found Mrs. L. a few feet away, resting quietly on a chaise. We exchanged quiet morning greetings as I sat down beside her. Had the sun been fully out, our eyes would have struggled against the glare on the water. As it was, we could comfortably gaze to the horizon. We talked of our exciting hike to the beach the day before and the wonders of the way: the ancient coral path, the strange and ugly fruits, the mountains of decaying coconuts and the exotically large leaves all around.
As our talk turned to the coral reef, hidden under the sea in front of us, and all its creatures, Mrs. L. queried, “I wonder if we’ll see a whale?” This was the season, we knew, for mama whales and their babies to make their slow way to colder northern waters. We had been told that perhaps, if we were very lucky, we might see one.
As the Mrs. L.’s words of wondering left her lips, an unexpected spray of water spewed from the sea before us, hundreds of yards away. Immediately following, a whale’s side flipper emerged from the water, arced slowly to the left and again submerged.
“A whale! It’s a whale!” we exclaimed as my heart thrilled within me. My eyes strained toward the place where the flipper had last been seen, hoping against hope that I might see it again. Had I really just seen that or did my eyes deceive me in the dull, overcast light?
Much to my delight, the same flipper appeared again, in the same manner. And again. And even again, up to six times the whale seemed to wave at us from his watery play. It wasn’t a mirage, it was really happening! A whale, we had been given the gift of seeing a whale. It was just for us; no one else had seen what we had seen. Furthermore, there were no additional whale sightings that trip.
Our dear Father had given us a special gift, one we didn’t even know that we really wanted. We didn’t ask for it much ahead of time; we just wondered if it might be. And because He loves us so, and longs to give us good things, our Father gave me (and Mrs. L.!) a delightful gift…just because. Just because He loves us.