Sunday, March 6, 2011

Passing Through the Waters

Torrential rains soaked most of the U.S. yesterday, and all of that water has to find a way to do what water does best: seek its lowest point. I took out my phone and snapped this shot of a beautiful rushing waterfall atop Lookout Mountain. No framing, no composition. Truly a snapshot to help me remember a beautiful sight.

The woodsy fragrance of wet, densely-packed leaves and the powerfully soothing sounds of rushing water tumbling over ancient boulders reminded me of summers from many years ago on that mountain. Days were simpler as junior high campers hiked in the early morning hours and shaped canned biscuit dough around a green stick to cook over an open fire before filling the cooked 'dough boy' with butter and jelly. The laughter of girls permeated the patchwork of memories woven into these woods near Camp DeSoto. 

Boys, too, have claimed a stake on Lookout Mountain since the 1950's at Alpine Camp, and countless young people have been blessed by spending summers on the mountain. I have traveled this road many times since 1967, and the sights and sounds of running water brought back an album of mental images. I am thankful to visit that familiar place again.

The relentless pounding of water created cascades high above the road we traveled yesterday and and carved channels underneath it as well, with sparkling rivulets streaming in unexpected places. I marveled that the entire road bed had not been washed off the side of the mountain after all these years. How can it endure the onslaught of high winds and rain season after season? Yet, people make their way up and down it every day.

Sometimes we get to experience life's blessings as a trickling mountain stream, nonthreatening and beautiful to behold. A running brook moves peacefully, lulling us into some expectation that all of life should run that way. It doesn't. 

Life comes at us with a storm's fury on occasions. Learning to accept our lot, our portion that we encounter, with courage and grace is a goal I press toward daily. When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm may we take heart. It is common to feel overwhelmed and unable to keep our footing when the path we've known before seems to be shifting under the weight of each new step.

Timeless words come to mind as signposts for the journey. Isaiah 43 and 2 Corinthians provide meaningful bookends to shore up a road bed that threatens to weaken underfoot. Take a fresh look:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43: 1-3 ESV

But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed...
So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18 ESV

Passing through the waters.....What a picture that presents.

I only drove through the waters today, but the days will come when we will experience this expression in a different way. May our God strengthen us as we grow in faith and learn to trust in God's provision along the way.

We have the promise of God's own Presence! Amen.


  1. Last night I had the honor of sitting with three freedom riders and watching their reactions to a play about their life in Parcman Prison. The common theme was their FEAR NOT attitude. I sat and cried at the horror and terror those freedom riders must have experienced right here in Mississippi. I do know for sure that their FAITH in God as they passed through those waters was strong and secure. It is my prayer like you said as those waters come in my life, whether large or small that I can FEAR NOT!

  2. What a beautiful devotional and reminder of God's love for us.

  3. lovely picture! i hope you had a great time this weekend :)