I’m not sure why I employ so much water imagery...a Freudian most likely would explain it using a lot of primeval birth symbolism. From earliest memory, I have loved water of all sources...creek, pond, river, lake, ocean. Growing up, I lived in a swimming pool during hot Georgia summers. Swimming has always made me feel free. I especially love it in ocean and lake...maybe the little thrill of fear of what lies beneath the surface makes it even more delicious. But sometimes things we love can turn on us; the good becomes dangerous. I think that’s why it is so important to be careful what we love. Swimming can become drowning in a swift second. A ripple rapidly turns into torrent.
A few years ago, I made up a short children’s fable which used the various manifestations of H2O as metaphor for the Trinity. The Father was crystalline ice, the Spirit appeared as steam, but the Son was water...beautiful, quenching, living water. (Sometimes simplistic explanations help me with metaphysical mysteries.) It is interesting that The Book begins and ends with water, and the theme streams its way through all the books in between. It is first mentioned in the second verse, Gen. 1:2: “...and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” It appears in the last chapter, Rev. 22: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God.....Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life...”
Obviously, great significance is attached to the element of water. It may save us or destroy us...cleanse us or kill us. It is the vehicle of both baptism and The Flood. But God has dominion over all the waters from first to last, and uses them for his purposes.
I hope I will remember that the next time I’m drowning.
In the context of these musings, here's the celestial response to the last blog:
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled* me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
(* We could spend hours debating God’s perfect will vs. God’s permissive will. Did God cause Katherine’s brain rupture, or did he allow it in the sense of natural laws operating in an imperfect world to which sickness and death are intrinsic? I choose to believe that it is the latter, and that He permits nothing to occur to his children which He cannot use for their ultimate good and for His greater purposes.)
...So here’s a little prayer from the belly of the whale, if anyone happens to be there now:
Father, forgive me from trying to run away from you, like Jonah. Protect me from myself. Forgive me for clinging to things...false life-preservers...that cause me to forfeit the grace you long to lavish on me. Remind me to thank and praise you for all things, in all things...even here in the belly of a whale. I thank you that I cannot save myself, so that I may more fully appreciate the great gift of your rescue. Thank you for stooping low enough to reach your hand down into the slimy pit of depression and self-pity and pull me out, setting me upon a Rock. I thank you that you always listen and answer...even in the midst of my rebellion. Enable me to make the sacrifice of a contrite heart to you, for you desire that much more than outward gestures of gratitude.
Command those things which imprison me in the depths to set me free. All creation trembles at the sound of your voice.
Help me to keep my promises to you, for even that I cannot do.
But your faithfulness endures forever.