When I was a kid there was an ad on television advertising some frozen seafood – fish fingers or something of that nature. It involved a man dressed in a chef’s uniform, frantically swimming around in a large fish tank holding out in front of him a frying pan of fish, whilst being followed by a shark. The idea was that the fish in the pan was so fresh that the shark was wanting it. I’ve tried looking for the ad on the web but unfortunately couldn’t find it. It was quite funny really. Well years later in my early adult life my sister and I met this man who was a stuntman and he told us a funny story about the film shoot. His name is Claude.
Apparently, the TV crew had to do a great number of takes to get the ad just right. He recalled to us how cold it was and that he was in the fish tank almost the whole day. He wasn’t allowed to wear oxygen tanks for the sake of authenticity. Each time they had to do another shoot he would have to start swimming around in one direction in his chef’s uniform in the hope of getting in front of the shark. The timing of this was imperative to capture the image for the commercial and to keep him alive without tanks! One can only imagine how many takes it must have taken to get this timing right. Obviously the shark wasn’t a danger to him – I think?
However, they kept running into a specific problem. This problem was a giant female manta ray who took a liking to Claude! Each time he would start on his swim around the tank she would glide over and gradually lower herself onto him, pinning him to the bottom of the tank! A diver would have to jump in and lift her large wing to get some oxygen to Claude who would be almost flattened under her weight, eventually lift her off and get him out of there. And then they’d have to start again. This went on all day until they finally got it right. Wow. How bizarre. She was apparently quite smitten with him!
Now, I hadn’t thought of that story for, I reckon about over 20 years atleast. But the strangest thing happened to me in September last year, 9 months ago. I was in a car accident. A bad one at that. Our car was written off. It wasn’t my fault and the other driver didn’t sustain any injuries. I got a fractured thumb, sore wrist, bruising, a lump on my head, concussion and some post traumatic stress which I am still getting through by God’s grace. It happened on the way to work the very day I was going to resign in order to return to NSW from our time in WA, on the word of the Lord to our hearts. The timing was uncanny (yet not, if you know what I mean). The car! We needed that car to drive nearly 5,000 kms back across the desert, across the country! Ouch. She was trashed.
Backtracking just a little…as I was sitting at the lights at the intersection before the accident and waiting for the green right arrow, I switched on some music and started listening to an old Chuck Girard song called “Slow Down”. Here are the words;
In the midst of my confusion
In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede
Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of….the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He….is….God
In the time of tribulation
When I’m feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure
Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He………is God
And know that He….is…God
I think the track was into the second line of the first chorus “Be still and wait..” when the car hit. Crash. A 90 km an hour hit on my side of the car. As I spun 360 degrees, repeatedly banging my head on the drivers’ window until eventually it shattered… “…on the Spirit of the Lord, Slow down and hear His voice and know that He is God…In the time of tribulation…” and so on. It was quite surreal. I called out loudly on the name of Jesus over and over as I spun and although not conscious of it at the time, was clearly being ministered to by the Lord through this song, deep, deep into my spirit in a very supernatural way.
When I lay in the ambulance at the scene all I could think of was that manta ray. All I could feel was that I had this big, gigantic warm blanket of the presence of God that had pressed me down and held me, covered, protected, shielded me. All I could feel was love. So much love. So much peace. Again, it was most surreal. I just lay there thanking God for this incredible experience. My heart was filled with peace and a deep, deep joy. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced such peace. Even now as I recollect, I can sense it again.
The ambulance officer told me I was a very lucky lady. Looking at the car wreck it was obvious that had I been just one second faster, the impact would have been directly into my door and I don’t think I’d be here today. Certainly not without serious injury. Perhaps those words ‘slow down’ reached much deeper than just my ears at the time that I drove forward on the green arrow. I’m certain of it.
There were many times driving across the country 3 months later that I was afraid and experiencing traumatic images etc as we passed road train after road train. However, from time to time we would pass an RV and notice it’s brand was none other than “Manta Ray”, with a small picture of a manta ray as part of it’s logo. As Derek would drive past the RV in our left hand lane, I would gaze out the passenger’s window at the picture and words as they went right by my eye level. In that quiet moment between the Lord and I, I would be reminded of that moment of immense peace of God that absolutely surpassed all understanding. He was always gently reminding me of His big love on that road trip. His big, giant manta ray Love.
Who would think that the Spirit of God would sing ‘Slow Down’ to me while I waited at the lights and continue to sing to me as I spun a 360. Who would think He would connect His grace, mercy, protection and love to a story of a stuntman in a chef’s uniform being held down by an infatuated manta ray whilst filming a commercial for fish almost 35-40 years ago! Can God use anything? You bet He can.
Our God is an extraordinary God folks. He never ceases to amaze me.
Psalm 91 reads;
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge[b]—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”