Hawaii – Aquarium or Open Water?

Back in August, in Marina, California, God showed me dolphins swimming in the waves at an abandoned beach off the beaten path…and then on November 3rd, we found ourselves flying over the waves in a boat off the coast of Hawaii. Surrounded by thousands of light reflections bouncing off the crystal blue water, looking like an endless swarm of paparazzi on a glassy sea, celebrating Jesus’ victory and a job well done…and today’s reward?

Swimming with dolphins

Anyone who knows me, knows “Open Water” has always been my biggest “physical” fear…

But I believe it has finally been redeemed.

The excitement of seeing something so crazy as a dolphin (not in an aquarium but in its natural habitat) totally made me forget my fear for a moment.

Then we were told to slide off the boat and get into the water…

Once in the open ocean, I submerged my head and saw nothing. In that moment, I will admit I had a hint of all my fears slowly rushing back into my head…

Then I saw them!


An entire school of dolphins, swimming in formation.

Then several right beside me!

2 coming straight at me!

I remember a group of eleven dolphins swimming slowly towards the ocean floor, coming my direction and I just began swimming right above them, in as much unison as I could. I couldn’t help but follow them as fast as I could out to open sea! But despite how far into open water I was going and how far away from the boat I was going…

I felt completely at peace.

All it takes is the presence of ONE to eliminate fear.

“Perfect love casts out fear” ~ 1 John 4:18

I believe that so much of our growth is birthed out of fear.

(Let me clarify)

In being in situations where we feel:




Out of our comfort zones


Those moments are battlegrounds, providing us with humility and surrender to call upon the name that is greater than our fear; providing strength in all of our weakness. When we are weak, then He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)

I can’t grow or change myself in the ways I really need to…

But Jesus can.

He can do what no man or woman can do in my life.

It’s HIS perfect love, no one else’s, which casts out ALL fear.

*When I choose to play it safe is when I stop growing*

I look at my walk with Jesus right now like Bruce Banner in the movie, The Avengers.

When the Avengers needed him to get angry in order to become the Hulk, Captain America says to him, “Dr. Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry.” To which he replies:


In a way, that’s where I find my strength and growth in the LORD.

The past 7 months, many questions get asked about my approach to evangelism (and I definitely don’t have all the answers). Or comments are made about obedience in intimidating circumstances or people asking, “How do you do that stuff?!”

My secret…I’m always afraid.

BUT I choose to let Jesus help me punch fear in the face, and EVERY TIME on the other side of obedience: He is there!

“Do not fear” is the #1 command in the Bible.

It’s inevitable that we will cross paths with it several times a day. But it’s what we choose to do about our fear that really matters.

Satan uses fear to hinder growth. He uses it to keep us tame…

But we are meant to be wild and untamed!

After all, my King is a Lion! And He ain’t tame!

And like C.S. Lewis said in describing Aslan the Lion: “Course he isn’t safe. But He’s good.”


That’s the Jesus I serve. He doesn’t guarantee us a safe journey. But He IS good, PROMISES to always go WITH US, and PROMISES us a life more abundant.


If I wanted to play it safe and never experience the ridiculously surreal experience of swimming with dolphins:

I could just admire them from afar in an aquarium and call it a day.


I can face fear and jump into their natural habitat; meeting them on their turf and experience peace and life like a I never knew existed.



We can admire Jesus from afar, in a safe, comfortable, controlled environment.

Knowing a basic appearance of Him but never truly knowing Him.

Accepting our moments of feeling good in the church walls are all we need (or at least all we think we want) and not allowing it to truly change us…

The church becomes an aquarium.


We can choose to say:

“I’m done settling!

Enough is enough!

I want more!

I want to KNOW Perfect Love.

I want to KNOW TRUE Freedom.

I want to see the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I want the PEACE that surpasses all understanding.

I want to change the world.”

You don’t find answers if you stop seeking.

You can’t change the world without leaving your front door.

And 100% of prayers do not come to pass when you refuse to pray.

It’s time to stop stalking Jesus behind a wall of glass and meet Him in the water just like Peter did!

That’s where Jesus is at!

Life out in the open water may look different…

It may look scary…

But HE is with you through it all.

And HE is worth it all.

And once you’ve broken that fear threshold:


The moral of this dolphin tale is this:

When Jesus is at the center, He will always bring you peace even in your greatest fear.

When Jesus is with you, fear has nowhere to call home.

Aquariums are fun, don’t get me wrong…

But they don’t come close to the exhilarating realities you’ll only discover in the open ocean.

Jump into the water with Him and even when the water feels rough, remember that the Prince of Peace is with you and will never leave you for the sharks.

 And in the words of Dory:

“Just keep swimming”

// Derek



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