Jon was fourteen years old when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California. Our friends, Earl and Pat, had moved to the island from Maine when Earl took the job of maintenance overseer for a large girl scout camp located there.
Summers at the beachfront camp were noisy and chaotic, with hundreds of girls and camp counselors arriving constantly in one to two week shifts. But winters were long, quiet and lonely; a good time to visit, and since we were homeschooling, the boys and I planned a six week stay during the winter of 1994.
From the day he arrived, Jon decided Earl (or Pa, as the boys and every other ‘grandchild’, related or not, called him) was going to take him fishing in the ocean.
“And I’m going to catch an octopus,” he declared to all of us.
“It’s really hard to catch an octopus Jon,” Pa told him, “they live way, way down, too deep in the water to get on your hook.”
But every day Jon kept insisting and reminding us, as soon as Pa took him fishing, he was going to catch an octopus.
We were there several weeks before Earl finally had a free day for fishing. They packed a lunch and eagerly climbed into the boat along with Jon’s younger brother, David, and a neighbor, Ken, the caretaker of the yacht club located a few miles down the beach.
Jon told Pa and Ken as they left the shore, “I’m going to catch an octopus now.” Ken replied with the same explanation Pa had given.
Everyone was trying to lessen the disappointment that was coming, in spite of Jon’s insistence.
They left in the morning and in late afternoon I heard Jon running up the beach to the house shouting, “Mom, Mom, I caught an octopus! Mom! I caught an octopus!”
I went outside to meet him. He was grinning from ear to ear. Jon has always had a huge and slightly quirky imagination so I figured he was fantasizing in his head again, pretending he had caught one because it’s what he’d wanted so much.
Earl met me halfway to the dock with a giant smile on his face. “Well, you’re never going to believe it, I still can’t, but Jon caught an octopus today.”
“You’re kidding.” I was stunned and delighted all at the same time. “I thought you said it was impossible?”
“I’ve been fishing in the ocean for years and never have I or anyone I know, caught an octopus. “ Earl looked as amazed as I felt.
Turns out they were a few miles off shore when Jon felt a tug on his line. He reeled it in and to everyone’s (but his) surprise there was a baby octopus clinging to the string.
Jon got his octopus!
That was twenty one years ago.
And I’ve never forgotten it.
When I read, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7), or “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), I’m reminded of a God who cares enough about a fourteen year old special needs kid to send a baby octopus from the depths of the ocean to his fishing line.
In the hard times, circumstances and struggles of life, when you feel as if God isn’t listening and He doesn’t care about you or the details of your situation…
..remember Jon and his octopus.
Keep believing for the impossible.
You never know what could be surfacing from the depths of despair, just for you.