I had been there hundreds of times. Autumn days with an array of hues moving in the wind and spectacle of colored leaves falling. Cold snowy days with ice on the water’s edge. Gorgeous days with blossoms hovering over the current. Warm summer days with sun beating down, sparkling off the river. At the bottom of the hill, down the little one way road, with nature’s paradoxical exquisiteness and simplicity both hovering on either side and old stone and brick buildings enchanting to the eye. But just four days ago, due to the heavy flood waters, this place was different. I’m glad we took a little detour to “sight see”…because what I beheld took my very breath away.
The rapids had come up over the parking lot and turtles and ducks looked so bewildered trying to find a calm corner to hide. The water had risen so high, racing by the mill and sweeping it’s old sides with a fast and fierce rush not to be stopped by anything or anyone. I stood in awe, eyes agog and mouth gaping at the sheer power of the current. I had never seen this before. Not here. Not this serene streaming river at the bottom of simple hill, charming lane. This was truly something to behold. I was frozen standing at the edge of the wall, looking down at these sure-to-be class 5 rapids. The water took me back to Jinja, the source of the Nile in Uganda, and the extreme water sportsmen doing stunts on kayaks for all eyes to see and hands to cheer. It took me back to Yosemite Park’s Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, where any who dare get close risk their very lives…even when the flowing streams look inviting, the undercurrent lies in wait, stronger than a beast. Was I seeing this type of current here? Now? I was glad a wall separated me from the edge, for if one fell in, the chances of survival would be only pure miracle.
I felt the wind grab my hair and caress my face. I closed my eyes and re-opened them. Yes, the river was raging, and its power no man could control. But Whose hands and words made that river and inspired those waves? Whose very breath could calm it in an instant? My Lord and my God. I stood in awe. I was witnessing the most incredible power rush by at a pace I dare not hope to travel, crashing on the rocks and carrying debris through the mighty flow. Yet, there is One greater than even these waves. He commands the winds and the waves, the storms and the seas. His presence is Almighty Eternal, Perfect on His throne…and yet He loves me and cares for me and numbers the hairs on my head? If a God this powerful is for me and not against me, a God more powerful than those crashing waves which could crush my very being in an instant, then why am I afraid? Why do I not trust and day after day have to return to Him with my brittle faith? Oh you, of little faith! Take heart, for this very God has come for us and is here for us even now in this moment!
Meditate on these words from Psalm 33…
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea as in a bottle; He puts the deeps in storage places. Let all the earth fear the Lord [revere and worship Him]; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to naught; He makes the thoughts and plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart through all generations…From His dwelling place He looks [intently] upon all the inhabitants of the earth- He Who fashions the hearts of them all, Who considers all their doings. No king is saved by the great size and power of his army; a mighty man is not delivered by [his] much strength…Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness…Our inner selves wait [earnestly] for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield. For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name. Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.”