Water, Water, Everywhere

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.

The Wonder of Our God

 

Cousins Barbara Eva Leonard Eddie etc 1955 corrected

 

Growing up, we lived near the families of two of my dad’s brothers and I was close to a couple of cousins who were about my age. As my younger siblings began arriving, so did younger cousins—all of whom we considered the “little kids.” It’s amazing how distant five or six years seem during our formative years, and how such age differences shrink into insignificance as adults.

Crystal was one of the little kids, so after my family moved away when I was seventeen we lost touch for many years. About five years ago Crystal started calling occasionally and we’d talk awhile, but still didn’t know one another well. Eventually though, we discovered that we are both passionate about God in a way that many others in our extended family are not; and a spiritual bond began to form.

The last few years have been very difficult for Crystal, with catastrophic illnesses plaguing her husband that have left him permanently disabled; a multitude of other cascading problems; and, in just the last year, she lost both parents as well as two of other close family members. Sinking into a place of deep despair, she continued crying out to God and, as always, He has been faithful. I share the background of Crystal’s difficulties to illustrate the wonder of the sufficiency of our Lord, even in the midst of our most desperate times. In her words…

Super close up of delicate blue wildflower blank Ava - Copy

I was walking the puppies, and out near the edge of our mowed lawn is the wilder part where the more natural grasses grow up to a height of about 18 inches.

It’s early spring and the wildflowers have just started to bloom here and there. Over the years, as I’ve taken photos of our flowers, I’ve found that some of my very favorites are the tiny wild flowers. At first glance, looking down at them from about five feet above, they don’t look all that impressive. But when I bend down and focus on the tiny blooms, some not more than an inch across, I am amazed to see the glorious details of the little petals and stamens, complete with pollen.

This day, walking near the edge of the lawn, I noticed a lone grouping of three fronds of one of these little Missouri wildflowers. It was white and delicate with little yellow stamens.

I wondered, “Will this little flower survive without anyone but the good Lord up above watering it and caring for it?” I also pondered the question, “What good will this little flower be?  If I hadn’t just happened to walk out here, nobody would even have enjoyed its beauty.”

Just then, a huge black-and-yellow-striped bumblebee, about an inch long and a half-inch wide, buzzed in and landed on the tiny wildflower. This is the kind of bumblebee I used to see growing up in Northern California where we used to love to catch them in the lupine bushes in quart glass Mason jars because we always liked to hear them “sing” as they buzzed.

It was always fun to find one that had lots of pollen dots on its back legs, gathered and distributed along its travels. I’ve since learned that many flowers don’t pollinate unless a bee comes along to do it for them.

So, here was this little lone wildflower and I watched, mesmerized, as the big bumblebee adeptly and carefully visited each and every little open petal.

I felt ashamed that I had so quickly judged the seemingly insignificant wildflower. I wasn’t the only one to enjoy its beauty—I was but one of many, including the Good Lord up above, the angels, and all the other birds and bees flying about.

Suddenly I didn’t feel like such a lone wildflower living out in the wilderness. The Spirit spoke to me and said that I am never alone, but that God Himself always makes plans to visit me and deposit within me bits of Himself, where they can stay forever, producing His life. Then, as I am filled with Him, I can be like the bumblebee and spread the beauty of His love to other flowers (people) I come in contact with.

May we all decide now to be like industrious little bumblebees, pollinating with His life all the wildflowers and cultivated flowers with whom the LORD allows us to interact.  We do this by sharing His light; by walking in His light. We do this by not reacting badly, even when others do so. We do this when we shine with His glory because we have been swimming in it ourselves, and it just exudes out of us effortlessly.

What wonderful details and symmetry God has placed on our little blue planet!

So today, praise Him, especially if you identify with being a lone little wildflower living out in the wilderness because…

He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10