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.

It’s Our Choice


Heading north on the scenic 101, about an hour south of the Oregon border, the unsuspecting driver will suddenly encounter and traverse a coastal sandbar. On the left the restless, roaring Pacific Ocean; on the right, still and lush, Freshwater Lagoon; an astounding contrast of constant motion and thunderous noise versus quiet and peaceful serenity.

It’s a good analogy of the choice set before us as Christians. We can either jump headfirst into the hubbub of life where it takes all of our energy to just stay afloat; or we can choose to enter His rest and be free of doubt and fear, even as we move ahead, accomplishing much for the Kingdom of God. 

The incredible voice of Don Potter comes to mind, crooning the words of The End of Some Things:

“There is a promise I can still hear, that one day I might enter his rest…There will be rumors, there’s already war; there will be battles in the heavenlies.  Perilous times are coming our way; many will faint from anxiety…This may be the end of some things as we know it, but it’s not the end of me.”

The road ahead of us is clear.  Which will we choose?


Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it…Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Hebrews 4:1, 6-11

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4: 4-7

Peace, Be Still

Trinidad, one of California’s smallest incorporated cities, rests on the spectacular rocky Pacific coast about a half-hour north of Eureka.  With it’s own harbor, it is an ideal spot to take off for a day of fishing out on the ocean.

On this particular day, it was a beautiful morning and the water was calm and smooth when my dad and his brother took off in a 10-foot boat with a small outboard motor; Dad steering from the back and my Uncle Sarge riding in the bow.  Except for the fact that they weren’t catching any fish they were having a great time bobbing around out there in the ocean; undoubtedly telling each other some pretty tall tales as they waited for a bite.  But on California’s north coast the weather can be fickle and all of a sudden the mirrored surface of the water became choppy and the waves began to swell.  It didn’t take long for them to realize they’d better head back into the harbor before things got any worse; but the waves started washing over the sides of the boat and the motor got wet.  Dad tried over and over to get it started but it sputtered and died…sputtered and died…sputtered and died.  Finally he gave up and the brothers traded places, but Sarge couldn’t do any better and soon their little boat was half full of water.  They needed to bail and they needed to paddle but only had a small coffee can and one paddle to work with—it seems the boat was a rental and since the ocean was so calm when they left it never occurred to them that they needed to be more prepared.

As my uncle tells it, “I don’t know if my brother was praying, but I sure was.  We were way out beyond the bar and didn’t have any way to signal for help, and only the harbor master and our wives, who were at home miles away, even knew we’d gone out fishing.  I told my brother we’d better take turns trying to paddle so we could try to get back to shore before we drowned, but with only one oar we just started going around in circles.  I was bailing water out furiously and trying to keep the boat from sinking, but it seemed to be a losing battle.  Then I had the idea that we needed to try to get the bow of the boat headed straight for shore so that when a wave hit we could ride the crest of the wave as far as it would take us; and then once it played out, we’d paddle the boat around to catch another wave.  This took what seemed like forever, and each minute I was getting more concerned that we weren’t going to make it back to shore alive.  As the Pacific got rougher and rougher it also started to get dark—and cold!  Oh it was cold, because even though it was mid-summer the water was only about 45 degrees.  I was praying frantically ‘Lord, please don’t let us die out here—I have two baby girls at home and a wonderful wife, and I don’t want to leave them.’  Somehow we finally started making a little progress—with every wave we’d progress about 20 feet, only to be pulled back out about half that distance.  But we kept on and with each wave we’d get a little closer to shore.  Finally, much to our relief, we limped in past the bar, totally soaked from head to foot—we couldn’t have been wetter than if we’d have had to swim for it.  How that old rowboat stayed afloat out there in that squall I have no idea, except that it was a miracle.  When we tied the boat up and checked in with the harbor master, he said, ‘Boys, I sure was getting worried about you making it back in,’ and then he told us that they had completely closed the harbor to boat traffic..  He was sure glad to get his boat back in one piece, but we were just glad to be alive and on dry ground, and not anywhere near as concerned about his boat with its single oar and rusty old coffee can.  All we could think about was that we were heading back home to our families alive.  Richard and I didn’t mention going fishing again for a while after almost drowning in that cold North Pacific Ocean—we were more than happy to stay on the shore.”

Dad and Uncle Sarge certainly had a taste that day of what Jesus’ disciples must have felt like when they went out to sea with Jesus.  On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.  And other little boats were also with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.  And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”  And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

It is a valid question that we should still ponder today, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  To try to define him by saying he is our Lord, our Savior, the Creator, the Son of God, Immanuel, the Word, the Lion of Judah; and then to go on and mention all of the other names by which he is known does not even come close.  And to speak of his love, his compassion, his humility, his wisdom, his humanity, and his obedience even unto death on the cross only scratches the surface of who he is.  To think that this Jesus, whose majesty and power and authority is beyond description, wants nothing more than he wants a relationship with us is astounding but true—that’s why he came; that’s why he died.  This Jesus is the One who can and will enter into the storms of our lives and say, “Peace, be still,” and once that happens we will never be the same again.