On a recent movie night, my family watched the movie Big Miracle. It is based on the true life story of three gray whales that were trapped in ice in Alaska in 1988. They got separated from the ocean by a ice wall that formed keeping them from their pod that was headed to Mexico and when the rest of their pocket of water froze they would die. The whole community and world (including President Reagan and the Soviet Union) came together to save these three mammals.
If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to have it spoiled please stop reading….but like Dolphin Tale, Free Willy and The Mighty Ducks this movie, for the most part, had a happy, feel-good ending. The citizens dug a path of breathing holes through the ice, some guys from Minnesota showed up with a heater, and the Russians smashed the sea wall down. Just another day in Point Barrow, Alaska. Before the credits rolled the whales were breaching on the ocean side and showing their iconic little flukes for the cameras before floating off to join their posse in Tijuana.
Feeling incredulous I pulled out my phone to go to Wikipedia and see if this all was real. I discovered that it indeed had happened. It was referred to by the gov’t as “Operation Breakthrough.” The big difference however was that in real life they never knew if it worked. Once the wall was broken they never saw the whales again on the land side but they never saw them surface on the ocean side either. There was no photo-op, or tingly, fireworks-going-off, tears being-shed-climax to all the work that had been done to free them. If the whales had survived they didn’t seem to care enough to say thanks…they just swam off into obscurity.
I thought how unsatisfying that would have felt for the laborers. Here they had worked so hard to save the whales and they never knew if they had been successful or not. For all they knew the whales ignored the path and drowned. What a letdown!!
All of a sudden it dawned on me that often that’s how it is for us. God calls us to be faithful in circumstances and do our part even though we don’t always get to see the results. That person you are kind to might not ever soften. That prodigal child might not come around in your lifetime. Those seeds you plant might not ever seem to hit good soil. But that’s not to stop you!
We can’t save the whales. But we can break the ice. We can’t force anyone to come to Christ, but we can break down obstacles and make them an easy path. And even if we never see the whale-tale up in the air or have a blow-hole-filling-the-sky-with-mist happy moment, we might just get to heaven and find out that those we thought were stuck in ice had a happy ending after all. We were never promised closure on this side of eternity anyway, just do your part and keep chipping away at the ice in front of you.
1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.