I stopped to watch the cormorant dive this morning on my walk around the lake. This bird fascinates me, and seems to beg for an audience. He glides, sitting lower into the surface as his feathers gradually absorb water. (I’m told he wasn’t given the natural water repellent oils that other water fowl have, so must periodically come to land until his feathers dry else he would literally sink to his death.) He invites me to play a guessing game: “Where Will I Come Up?”. Head down, perfectly poised with a body designed for it, he dives. I can’t see the bottom, I can’t see where he goes. But he’s down there swimming in that dark and murky lake. He knows what he’s doing and he’s about his business of doing it. He’ll resurface when he’s ready, but where is anybody’s guess. I wait. I watch, my eyes darting back and forth to the right, to the left, out further, closer in, trying to predict where he’ll emerge. It seems to take forever. Did I miss him? Suddenly, as gracefully as he disappeared beneath the surface, his head pops up way over on the west side of the lake. My patience is rewarded. I smile, congratulating myself for looking in the right direction, and move on. But my mind stays on that bird. I ponder the deep.
I waited patiently for the Lord.
When will you come? Where will you show up? How can you ever make this right? Should I abandon my Lord just because he has not performed the way I had expected him to? I question his goodness. I am seeing a “side” of him that I hadn’t known before, and it frightens me. But where else would I go? So I wait. My soul takes a seat, folds its hands, and waits for Jesus. I have no words except “HELP!! HELP!! I’m going down!”
And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
But how does that save me? It’s dark. I can’t see into the next 15 minutes, let alone the long years ahead shadowed by this incomprehensible loss. Fragments of frantic thought grasp for a solid foothold. The eyes of my soul dart here and there, looking for light. An overwhelmed heart. A mind in anguish. Tears that won’t stop. So what if God does hear? He can’t undo what’s been done.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my steps.
Yucky, dark, slimy, bottomless ooze. I fear swimming where I can’t see the bottom, and in lakes where organic matter wraps itself around my ankles. I want to see. I want to know what’s there. I want solid, visible ground under my feet. The Indian Ocean, off the coast of northern Mozambique, is my favorite place to swim. The water is clear the whole way down. I can see my feet as they pad across the firm, wet sand. The dangers are clearly visible and deftly avoided.
I still don’t know the answers. Grief still looms. I immerse myself in His word, and so He has quieted my soul with grander thoughts of his ways, a broader understanding of his mercy, his grace, his holiness … my depravity and the brokenness of us all. His character is the solid rock on which he has set my feet. I don’t understand God. But I know him better. I trust his terrible goodness. There is strength in his mercy, an awful perfection in his judgements, and a glorious purpose in it all, yet to be unveiled.
We need a God who sees where we don’t see; a God whose purposes stretch into eternity, where our minds collapse at such ponderings. This God, the One revealed to us in the holy Scriptures, is the only god worth fearing, loving and waiting on.
He has put a new song in my mouth – Praise to our God. Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
I’m waiting on my Rescuer for that new song, and to see what He will do with it. But I will watch and be patient for His time. There are gifts of His grace that are only bestowed on those who walk through the valley of death. Walk, don’t run. I will cherish these gifts in my heart and, when I have voice, broadcast them to all who will hear.
I would never willingly go where the cormorant goes. But when His hand of Providence takes me there, the Rescuer goes with me.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence…” II Peter 1:3