Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. For he draws up the drops of water they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea. (Job 36:26-30)
The awesome power and imagination of God is something I often ponder, so when I came across a paper that my son, Kevin, did about sixteen years ago, I was so blessed because every word in it reminded me of God’s greatness, and it felt as if I were reading a beautiful psalm. The writing assignment was an exercise of the stream of consciousness to get thoughts down on paper, so it simply flows from thought to thought as a seamless, unbroken thread. With Kevin’s permission, I share it here now with the hope that it will also draw the reader’s heart to our majestic and creative God.
THE RIVER OF LIFE by Kevin Parker
It’s an amazing thing now that I think about it. So many uses and such great importance. Everywhere you look, everything you feel. Ok, maybe not everything, but pretty darn close. What am I talking about you ask? I’m referring to the very substance that all living things need to survive. No, not oxygen, plants don’t need that. Try again. The sun? Well, I guess most living things need it, but what about all those fish that live miles and miles down deep in the ocean who never see the sunlight? But, you are getting closer. Yep, that’s it—water. You knew that from the beginning didn’t you? Did you know that your body is mostly made up of water? Without it none of us could survive. It keeps us healthy too. Supposedly, we need to drink eight glasses of water per day, or at least that’s what I remember being told when I was little. Do you know anybody who does that consistently? I don’t. Something else interesting that I’ve learned about water. For every cup of coffee or soda a person drinks they need to drink two cups of water to flush out all that junk. You’ll never guess where I learned that—traffic school. It’s funny (well, to me it is) that we use water in so many other ways as well. I mean, it’s a commodity that helps to sustain life. And what do we use it for? To wash that stuff off your shoe from your late afternoon walk in the park. Or to scrub down your car or rinse your dishes. And then, some of us like to jump in it, surf on it, swim in it. Then, there are the people like me, who treat water the same way as every other person, but enjoy it most when I’m not even using it. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting alone, or maybe with a friend, just watching the waves come in and go out. As far as the eye can see and even farther, all that’s there is blue. Powerful yet calm, serene, and peaceful. Full of life and changing currents, a world within itself. That is how I see the enormous body of water we call the ocean. Arguably the most soothing, relaxing place on earth, which at any moment with a simple swell becomes the most destructive. There is nothing I enjoy more than to sit and watch our Pacific Sea. Except maybe the rain. Yeah, I like that too. From the gentle mist to the awesome thundering and wailing of an all-out storm. I find that peaceful as well, but at the same time frightening. It’s odd how that is possible. That is, I mean, how you can love and fear a thing at the exact same moment. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever felt like that? People often talk of the calm before the storm. In my case I suppose I look for the storm. How a phenomenon that is anything but calm, as well as unpredictable and untamed, can bring me peace is hard to explain. But to put it simply, just think of what is left over after it rains. A mild drizzle or light shower can wash away the dirt, the smog, the clutter. In its place is one of God’s greatest and most beautiful gifts, the rainbow. Then there is the mighty thundershower that will likely leave some sort of destruction in its wake. Sure, that’s usually a bad thing, but at times it can make way for a rebuilding of a thing that may be even better the second time around. Well maybe this isn’t the perfect metaphor, but if you think about it long enough it begins to fit. “Water, water, everywhere…” I think that was the beginning of a poem I heard once upon a time, but how did the rest of it go? Doesn’t really matter since the first three sum it up pretty well. Water…it’s everywhere. Now if only everything was that straightforward, but that’s another story for another time. Water, in its most beautiful, and simultaneously most powerful form, the waterfall. Quite possibly the world’s greatest natural wonder, at least in my eyes. This would have to be my favorite form of water. Really, I mean it this time. I want one. Where? In my backyard, just past the jungle stream. Why do I find the sight of falling water so magnificent? Couldn’t I experience the same awe at pouring out my glass of water in the cafeteria? I doubt it, but maybe I’ll try it someday. I can’t explain my fascination with the overflow of liquid off the side of a cliff. When analyzed, it’s nothing more than simple physics. But that may be just it! So simple, yet so complex. The ebb and flow of a breaking wave, the “drip-drip-drop” of an April shower, and the awesome and spectacular freefall of a waterfall. Uncontrolled, nearly unstoppable once set into motion. Possibly redirected but never easily dissipated. What does this say about me? What is my connection to this interest? Could it be a way I look at life? Start with a water molecule, H2O. A combination that exists only by the imagination and creativity of God, no matter what a chemistry teacher might say. Add another, and another, and eventually you find yourself in the middle of an ocean. An ocean of what? Of molecules? Maybe, just maybe, they can represent something more. Now, this large body of water doesn’t just sit still. Swells, currents, and rip tides are all generated from the bouncing of individual molecules. Occasionally on the open sea, but more often as you approach the shore, a wave forms and breaks. That’s when you make your decision. Do you surf it? Do you dive under it? Or do you stand your ground and hope not to be knocked back by its overpowering force and be washed away. Sometimes life is like the rain. Soon after clouds fill the sky, the droplets begin to fall. Each drop, as it falls to the ground, is individual and alone on its descent. But, once it hits its destination it blends in with the rest. Sometimes feeding plants with valuable nutrition, but more often creating a run-off that is sucked down the nearest storm drain. Then, of course, there is the mighty waterfall again. Simply put, what can better illustrate the unpredictability of life. One minute you are floating downstream just like everybody else, when you see the drop appear on the horizon. You fight to swim upstream. Sometimes you succeed; more often you don’t. And then there are the times when a helpful friend, who just happens to be standing on the bank carrying a really long rope, saves you, but that’s only if your lucky. Even if you can’t stop the constant flow of the current, there’s the chance you still might be spared–unless you actually fall over the edge. Then, and only then, do you know how far down you will fall. That is, of course, unless you’ve already been over this waterfall, and in that case can be declared legally insane for falling over the same waterfall twice. Or, then again, you could just be unlucky. First, there is the chance you didn’t make it, you didn’t survive the fall. But if you did, it is possible you might just need time to recover before you move on. And then the most desired, but seldom achieved conclusion—coming out unscathed and unhurt. Surviving the fall, full of relief, now knowing not to fall into that part of the river again. But whatever the outcome, the river keeps flowing, life goes on. That is, of course, unless you find yourself stuck in a pond.