The Purposeless Porpoise

A weir

It takes a lot to get my family to willingly crawl out of bed at 6:30 in the morning while on vacation; but our anticipated day on Grand Manan Island had us all jumping up at the sound of the usually unwelcome alarm! It only took us a few minutes to throw on our clothes and load into the van for the 45 km trip to Blacks Harbour, where we would await the ferry that would take us across the Fundy Bay to this beautiful island. The fact that the sun was shining made our enthusiasm soar even higher. The beach gear was in the back, along with a cooler containing all of our meals for the day. It would be a great day! Or so we thought.

By the time we reached Grand Manan, the sky had turned into a grey blob, ready at any minute to drop wet pellets not only on the hapless visitors, but also on the enthusiastic excitement they brought with them. We managed to stay pretty dry while visiting the Swallowtail Lighthouse, which was only a short drive from the ferry dock; and by wearing rain jackets and hats, we didn't even get too wet on our short hike to reach the Hole-in-the-Wall, a natural rock formation along the island's rocky cliffs.

Just as we got back to the van however, and my son had had the time to call out, "I left my water bottle back at the Hole-in-the-Wall!", the heavens opened and the torrential rain began to fall. My wife, ever the adventuresome one, was drenched when she returned from retrieving the "wayward" water bottle, and the rest of us soon followed suite as we continued to try and visit the rest of this beautiful rocky coastline.

We gave up our sightseeing after that, and we spent the rest of the morning driving from one end of the island to the other, finally returning 3 hours earlier than necessary to the ferry landing, happy to hear that they would change our reservations to an earlier ferry! Never had our dry trailer back in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea seemed so inviting!

While aboard the ferry on our return to Black Harbor, I spent some time reflecting on our wet trip; and one incident that happened close to the Hole-in-the-Wall really struck me.

The local fishermen used a neat invention to trap fish. It was a huge wooden contraption called a weir. It consisted of wooden poles buried in the floor of the bay, usually in the shape of an oval, that were surrounded by netting. There was only one small opening in the netting, usually on one of the long sides of the oval, and there would always be another row of poles and netting that ran from the shore to the opening of the weir, usually in a perpendicular line.

To understand how the weir works, it is necessary to understand the phenomenon of the Bay of Fundy tides, which are known to be the highest in the world. Fundy tides can rise and fall anywhere from 18 to 28 feet, and they do so regularly, every 6 to 7 hours. At high tide, the fish come in to shore to feed, and when the tides go back out, these fish can easily get trapped in the weirs. Though they could swim back out of the opening if they wanted to, they tend to just get caught up in swimming giant figure 8s around the netting until the fishermen come out for the harvest.

We had seen such a weir from the trail, just yards from the Hole-in-the-Wall, and this weir had held our attention for a long time. Had it not been raining, we might have stood there for hours. Why? Because there was a young porpoise entrapped in this wooden contraption.

He had probably been enticed in by the thought of being able to stuff himself on all of those scrumptious local fish; but once inside, he soon got caught up in the circle eights, never realizing that escape was available through the opening where he had entered.

We could wave and yell at him all we wanted. We could scream out instructions on how to get out of his predicament, but he just continued to swim around and around in a perfect eight, always missing his exit by only a couple of inches. Eventually he would give up, and the fish he had come in for would be but a bitter reminder of how he had become imprisoned.

In due course, the Whale Research Station (who we later learned had already been informed of the imprisoned porpoise) would come out and free him, and he would swim away, hopefully having learned an important lesson about avoiding temptation. Undeserved grace would be bestowed upon this hapless creature.

The young porpoise had been lured into a trap by his own appetite. His craving had ensnared and imprisoned him. Isn't it the same with sin? Doesn't temptation make the lure look grandiose, too crucial to pass up? If we give in to our emotions, we soon find ourselves addicted to the bait with no way out, no matter how hard we try. Sin is always addictive, and on our own, it is impossible to break free. We may try, but like that purposeless porpoise, we only find ourselves turning in vicious circles. Sometimes we may think we've finally broken free, only to fall back, deeper into sin's deadly grasp moments later. Hopeless addicted, our purpose in life becomes to satisfy our sinful habit.

Just like the porpoise needs outside help to get out of the weir, the only way out of the traps of sin lies in an outside Rescue Team. Our Heavenly Father, in His immense grace, sent His Son down to this earth and lived among us. He was crucified for our sins and rose up again to share His resurrection power with each of us. Anyone who accepts His help will find a way out of their purposeless lifestyle. They will find themselves free of their deadly habits. Jesus will become real to them as they realize that their freedom was obtained 2000 years ago.

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he came and set his people free. He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives. (Luke 1:68-69 The Message)

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36 NIV)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NIV)

Jesus is the only one who can rescue us. Will we let Him? Or will we be like the purposeless porpoise forever?

Rob Chaffart

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