Under the Sea

You’ve probably only ever seen a Christmas Tree Worm in the movie The Little Mermaid. They show up in the musical number “Under The Sea” during which they pop in and out of the sand.

Going “under the sea” has become a new hobby for me. Last week, I went with a group of friends on a SCUBA trip to Islamorada, Fl. We had an absolute blast.

My favorite dive was to Long Key Reef. It was a ledge reef about 35 feet down. The coral was so brilliantly colored, in shades and hues like I’d never seen. Angelfish the size of dinner plates were dancing all around us, in colors ranging from black and white to a golden yellow and a breathtaking blue. Then there were these swarms of sergeant major fish that were incredible. They are kind of a yellowish white with purple stripes. Only about the size of your hand, they will get incredibly aggressive if you get too close to their territory.

Another incredible dive was called The Pillars of Atlantis. It was actually the pillars of the bridge that is blown up in True Lies. The bridge is just densely covered in corals, sponges, and sea fans. Hiding under one coral ledge, we saw a bright blue puffer fish. Its face was so friendly and serene, but as soon as it saw us coming towards it, it turned around and avoided looking at us. Once we’d passed, it peaked out of its shelter, but if we tried to return, it looked the other way.

We also had the chance to do a night dive. During this dive we saw tons of crabs and lobsters. The lobsters were easily 18-24 inches long and would hiss or wag their antenna at you. The crabs on the other hand would sit on their sponge or coral watching the other crabs. When one would move or gesture—in what apparently was the wrong way—the crabs would jump at each other and fight.

Eagle rays were everyone’s favorite. Each dive we’d be on the lookout for one of these majestic creatures and I was lucky enough to see a few. They have great power in their size, but they are very secretive.

But the Christmas Tree Worms were one life form that we saw everywhere. They grow on the coral, specifically the brain coral, and look like little pink or yellow or orange pine trees. They don’t really move, they just cling to their coral. However, if people get too close to them, in less than a second, they collapse together and disappear into their coral.

That song, “Under The Sea” from The Little Mermaid was one that we admittedly listened to while on our dive boat. There is a lot of truth to the lyrics, specifically the chorus which says, “Darling it's better/Down where it's wetter/Take it from me/Up on the shore they work all day/Out in the sun they slave away/While we devotin'/Full time to floatin'/Under the sea.”

For the week we were in Islamorada, life was simple. Going to college in the fall didn’t matter. Family reunions that people were rushing to had little importance. Camps, sports, training events all seemed insignificant under the sea.
I think life under the sea a great metaphor for a lot of the relationships we have up on the land.
When people stumble around us, do we become aggressive like the sergeant majors?
When people pass us, do we look away like the puffer fish?
When people irritate us, are we quick to hiss and fight like lobster and crab?
When people see potential in us, do we become secretive like the eagle rays?
And when people get too close to us, do we collapse in on ourselves like the Christmas tree worms?

Maybe life is simpler under the sea, but it wouldn’t be much of a life. It’s all too easy to become guarded. I know that I have fallen into this trap before. I’ve thought to myself—be it on projects for school, events at scouts, emails, phone calls, relationships—“this would just be easier if I didn’t have to deal with people.”

But part of the fun of SCUBA diving is going deeper. They start you out in the pool just putting your face underwater. Then you get down on your knees in about 6 feet. Then you go practice the skills down at 12 feet. The actual certification is at about 25 feet. All the cool fish are somewhere between 35-60 feet and most ship wrecks are 60-100 feet.

In 1 Peter 4:8-10 Paul says, “Love each other deeply, because love will cause many sins to be forgiven. Open your hearts to each other without complaining. Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” The reality is, a surface level relationship—one of being aggressive, of looking away, of hissing and fighting, of being secretive, or collapsing in—will never take you to any of the breathtaking and awe inspiring experiences that a deep relationship offers.

Unfortunately, we can’t go to these depths on our own. Just like a SCUBA certification teaches you to “dive with a buddy” we need some help to “love each other deeply.” Only God is truly capable of opening our hearts to love unconditionally. Through trusting Him—His plan, His time table, His grace—he will lead us into relationships that are filled with love, forgiveness, and great depth.

Zach Herzog


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