Shout in Silence
Flat seas and clear 100-foot visibility underwater dominate the crystal clear-blue day as we descend onto the reef. My student franticly points out fish after fish on his underwater identification slate; angelfish, wrasses, gobies, snappers, puffers, lobsters, parrotfish, and butterflyfish surround us. Then, we swim up on a “cleaning station”. Here, a Pederson Cleaner Shrimp grooms a Blue Tang. The Tang lies on its side while the shrimp picks off parasites and bacteria, getting a meal for itself. A glorious example of the balance of life in God’s underwater world, I pump my fists in the water and shout with excitement into my regulator!
Okay, not much of a shout; more of an exhale really. As a kid I thought if I yelled underwater my voice would be trapped in the bubbles and upon breaking the surface, they would release my exclamation. After all, it worked in cartoons. That myth was busted. However, it was one of the many fascinating underwater mysteries which drove a passion for underwater exploration that has been with me all my life.
As a professional scuba instructor, I have the privilege of taking people scuba diving to all kinds of underwater destinations. The most spectacular of these destinations are coral reefs. When divers descend into God’s underwater world the beauty, balance, diversity, complexity, colors, formations and silence create an atmosphere that is so breathtaking and awe inspiring that many are moved to acknowledge our Creator God. Even the most secular of individuals pause to contemplate the magnitude of underwater life surrounding them.
Interestingly, novice divers or divers conducting their first ocean dives are quite nervous. This is understandable as television networks love programming that takes underwater footage and edits it into absurdly-dramatic sequences to boost viewership. Unfortunately, this creates a maligned view of the true serenity of God’s underwater world. I’ve watched countless “nervous newbies” surface with beaming smiles as they proclaim the same sentiment; how they were not afraid because the underwater world was not filled with creatures that could hurt them. Rather, its beauty, balance and diversity is greater than anything they have experienced on Earth.
You see, this underwater world with all its varying life forms should be the epitome of chaos, randomness and chance as survival of the fittest reigns supreme. Sounds scary, but it is not. In fact, it is a place of extreme balance, extreme beauty and extreme design. These are hallmarks of a “designer” – our Creator, our God. Whether diving amidst 40 sharks on a shark feeding dive, or simply laying in the sand playing peek-a-boo with a tiny Goby, you realize you are just a visitor in an impossibly large and complex universe only a few fathoms from the surface we know. This is humbling and makes many divers feel closer to God underwater than anywhere else on Earth.
Although we can’t hear the “ooh’s”, the “aah’s” and other exclamations rising up in our exhaled bubbles; God can. And as Jonathan Edwards writes in his book The Works of Jonathan Edwards, "God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by its being rejoiced in." When immersed in this silent world one is gripped in awe. And that reverent, silent awe shouts in its own special way.