Our family stayed closer to home this Spring Break, exploring a portion of the Pisgah National Forest called The Land of Waterfalls. This one in the picture we had all to ourselves. It's called Moore's Cove, accessed by trail only. The photo doesn't do it justice...never does (especially when this girl is taking the photo...ahem.) If you look close enough you can see my son standing just behind the falls, drenched in spray and swallowed up by cavernous rock. In the magic of the moment, right before we left, we stopped to do something a dear friend taught me. Whenever she is out with her kids deep in creation, they pause and each find a spot to sit, listen and observe. After a few still minutes, they come back together to share what came to mind. I love that. So, all five of us spread out and for three minutes, we got quiet, and that little golden nugget of time became one of the highlights of our trip. We each had different insights...some spiritual, some physical, some relational, but all meaningful.
Below is what I shared with my family as we walked together back down the trail.
Sitting there at the foot of the falls, just far enough away to stay dry, but still close enough to feel the cool breeze forced out from the cascading water, I pictured my own life in the form of a water drop. Someplace far upstream or in another valley, maybe from the dew dripping off a rhododendron leaf...somewhere, its journey began. And over time that drop simply ran its course carved out by the Creator. Joyfully trickling over rocks, slowly curving around a bend, quietly motionless in a pool, steadily moving down stream or tucking under a bridge it carried on. Then all of a sudden...its pace quickened and instead of a river bed, there was a free fall. Then a crash and the drop of water was fragmented into mist and spray, its splash drenching rock cliffs, plants, and pebbles. Amidst the chaos, the scattered drop recollected itself and resumed its course downstream...once again through quiet waters, content to be a water drop, simply following where the Creator had called it to go.
Life is kind of like that, isn't it? Sometimes we are flowing along and sometimes we hit seasons that feel like a free fall. It's scary and we feel helpless and out of control. And sometimes when we hit bottom, it hurts. Life feels fragmented and broken and shattered. Nothing around us resembles the gentle, quiet waters the Shepherd had once brought us through. We feel disoriented, a bit lost, desperate for some order, peace, and tranquil streams.
As I watched those drops take flight this came to mind...
People go to great lengths to see beauty. In this case, they travel far, climb steep terrain, push their physical limits, just for a glimpse of a waterfall. It's the destination and the reward. While the streams are lovely, it's the waterfalls they pursue. Might it be true, then, that the suffering we face on our journey, the free falls and roaring crashes, could be the most glorious thing people see in our lives? That when we suffer well, when we trust and embrace fully (even though frightening and painful) the hard path carved out for us...is it possible that could be something that would cause others to pause in their tracks and see the radiant beauty of our Maker?
Suffering is most assuredly a result of this broken world and is certainly not without an evil, ugly side. But, we do not have to allow it to define us in that way. Instead, because we are bound up in the steadfast love of our Father, the sovereign author who has scripted our story, we can plunge over cliffs of suffering with assurance and confidence that He is able to make all things beautiful. He brings beauty from ashes. He transforms, redeems and even brings forth life from the awful sting of death in the suffering we face here on earth. We need not look any further than the cross-where the deep horrors of sin and suffering and the eternal beauty of love and grace and glory meet.
I want to suffer with that kind of faith and trust...to fully surrender and simply be the water drop that he has ordained me to be.
Flowing steadily in the course he has carved out for each of us, I desperately pray that as his humble servants and beloved disciples in the midst of trial, we might reflect the glorious beauty of our Creator to onlookers, just waiting for a glimpse of holy grandeur. And then drawn by the peculiar and powerful beauty of Christlike suffering, may they become drenched from the spray of our own tears as we cry out "Thy will be done!", and see right through us to the One whose image we bear. And finally might the beautifying work of redemption be theirs for the taking as the Creator forms them from the inside out into water drops for His purpose and glory and their everlasting joy as they flow in the steady stream of his love.