Today's Lectionary Text
The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
Your decrees are very sure;
I have always loved the book of Psalm and its beauty in words and the imagery it describes. This particular Psalm speaks to me as it reminds me of God’s majesty through the use of water and its power and strength. From the time I was a little girl, I have been drawn to sources of water. A love for the lake on a warm summer day to swim and to ride in a boat while others fish. A love for a pond as I sit nearby and watch the wind take effect on the water while dipping my toes in the cool, wet of wonder. A love for a river and its beauty as it carves out a trail into rock and dirt with both power and grace. A love for a newly established rain puddle ripe for jumping into with red rain boots. A love for listening to the rain as it hits the tin on my old back porch in the dark of the night. A love for standing at the edge of the vast expanse called ocean and watching the tide roll in and then back out with wave after wave of strength, changing the landscape little by little.
God’s world is indeed majestic and powerful! Let us see His beauty and grace, but also His power and strength as we look to the waters He has created. Our Psalm 93 reminds us of this. As a high school senior, I took a church youth river float trip, as we had most every spring as a teen. This particular spring, the river was full to the banks and was running swift downstream due to spring storms which had released an abundance of life-giving water. I entered into the river, as I had in the past, with a friend and excited about the sunny day ahead as we would navigate the waters with fun and relaxation.
At some point, we realized the water was moving quite fast for our ability to keep the canoe pointed where we desired to go. We worked together to seek out the calmer side of the river, only to find we were slowly being drawn into a tree lined embankment that appeared dangerous. Before we knew what had happened, I was clinging to a tree branch, minus glasses and a life vest, and found my canoe and friend nowhere to be seen. Fear gripped my body and soul and for the first time, I feared the power and strength of the water I was surrounded by. As I held on, for dear life, I noted the group of boy scouts and their dads on the far bank of this dangerous corner in the river. I called for help!
Much to my great pleasure they assured me they would help. They waded into the deep water, downstream, and began to encourage me to “let go!” I could not. I prayed. I asked God to help me. I looked up above the bank on the other side, and on the far hill I could see a cross standing proudly in the sunshine. This reminder was what I needed, and I said one more prayer before I fearfully let go.
It seemed to take a long time under the water, and finally I felt the arms of the men, those brave dads, reaching around for me and lifting me out of the river. I have never been so thankful! These men told me later they were not sure they could catch me or even find me as the water was dark that day and unusually deep, but they had prayed as well. My friend had drifted on down safely in the river to the next bank. They never found our canoe though.
This incident left an indelible mark on me, on my love and also newfound appreciation for the strength and power of water. It has always been a time I have returned to, in my mind, when venturing near deep and powerful water. I have learned to see God’s beauty and grace and also strength and power in the water He created. I am reminded of His great love for me in providing those men, those dads, to scoop me out that day.
God is just like that. He desires to “scoop us out” of the raging waters of our lives, if we will trust Him. If we will focus on Him. Though the waters may rage around us, and not die down, God will stand strong in these waters with us if He doesn’t scoop us out. Sometimes our learning and trust is not only in the good times, but also in the strong and powerful times. As Christians, we are not immune to these times, nor should we be. God didn’t make my canoe leave me in danger, nor does He cause any of us to enter difficult times, but I can assure you He will be there with you in those times. He will stand alongside, when you ask Him to, and it is there you will find His beauty and grace.
I still love water. Deep. Wide. Raging. Calm. Lake. Pond. River. Puddle. Rain. Ocean. But I now know and appreciate the clear beauty and also the strength and power of God’s majesty. I love my God, who stands with me both in the raging waters and the still ones.
-Rev. Jo Ellen Axthelm, Associate Pastor at Seward UMC, NE
Prayer for Reflection
God, we thank you for the gift of water and your majesty in the world you have created for each of us. We thank you for loving us so much and for scooping us out when needed, from raging rivers, and for standing alongside us in the ebb and flow of life’s oceans. Amen.
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