Aug 22 2015

Like a Waterfall

e_DSC7882 (2)Last week a friend and I went to eastern Kentucky to photograph a number of waterfalls. Unfortunately there are very few waterfalls near where I live now so we had to drive a ways to photograph these. I’m convinced the drive was worth it and not just for the nice images we got. There is just something about waterfalls that appeal to me and also speak to my soul.

e_DSC7998 (2)A couple of times while we were photographing the falls I thought about Chris Tomlin’s song “Waterfall.” I remember hearing Tomlin talk about this song on the radio. He indicated that the inspiration for the song was Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Here are the words to the song: “O God, my God I seek You; I wanna move when You move. You’re more than I could long for; I thirst for You. You’re an ocean to my soul to my soul. Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall–running wild and free. You hear my heart when I call, when I call. Deep calls to deep. Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall–raining down on me, waterfall, waterfall. O God my God, I seek You in this dry and desert land. You lead me to streams of mercy once again. You’re an ocean to my soul, to my soul. It’s coming like a flood; I’m dancing in the rain. Everything I’ve done is covered in rivers of grace. Amazing!”

e_DSC8044God’s love certainly is like a refreshing waterfall. It brings both joy and cleansing. The only problem I have comparing God’s love to a waterfall is that I have experienced a number of seasonal falls. The first time I saw Yosemite Falls it was spring and I was overwhelmed by the power and height of this amazing waterfall. The second time I visited Yosemite National Park it was summer and Yosemite Falls was for all practical purposes nonexistent. You could not see any water coming over the top. I do not picture God’s love as a seasonal waterfall but one that is always flowing.e_DSC7970 (1)

I like Chris Tomlin’s description of God’s love “running wild and free” like a waterfall. Even though there is something quite predictable about God’s love (the Bible describes it as “steadfast and sure“) it is at the same time unpredictable. God’s love is constant but we often experience it in unexpected ways.  You never know where, how or through whom you might experience the love of God.

In order to photograph waterfalls these days I have to drive a long distance. In order to experience God’s love I don’t have to go anywhere. What I do have to do, however, is put myself in a position to receive this love. That does not always come as easy as some might imagine. If we are not careful we can let our problems and the stress of day to day living keep us from letting God’s love wash over us. I have certainly been guilty of doing this. Hopefully we can learn to be more receptive to God’s love and also open to the many different ways we might experience it on any given day. The more we do so the better we will be able to handle our problems and the stresses of life.

As you read this today it is my hope and prayer that you will somehow feel God’s love anew and be “covered in rivers of grace.”

Chuck Summers

(I took the pictures shown above last week.  The first and third images show Cumberland Falls; the second image is Dog Slaughter Falls; the fourth image is Eagle Falls.)


May 8 2011

A Wonderful Day

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

Yesterday I decided to check out a spot in Virginia I had heard about some time ago.  All I really knew was that there were three waterfalls on a short trail at this particular location.  This spot is less than an hour and a half from where I live but I had never been to it.  After an incredibly wonderful experience there I can only wonder why I did not go sooner.

Why do we tend to take for granted our local settings?  When I went to Hawaii last month I looked forward with great anticipation to photographing the waterfalls I would see there and yet there are some very nice waterfalls close by that I haven’t even visited.  Far too often we forget that there are natural treasures nearby if we will only take the time to visit them.

I suspect that my experience with the waterfalls has its parallels in the spiritual life.  We sometimes get to thinking that we can only encounter God at church, some special retreat or perhaps an inspirational concert.   We forget that He may be encountered anywhere and at any time.  It may be at church but it could just as well be in your own back yard.  It may happen at a nice retreat center somewhere but He may also make Himself known to you at a local park.  Sure God sometimes reveals Himself at inspirational meetings and concerts but He can also make Himself known through the singing birds outside your window or in a group of flowers in a nearby field.

In the Bible God makes Himself known in many different ways.  At times He was found in the clouds or in a fire.  He showed Himself to Moses in a burning bush and talked to Balaam through a donkey.  God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and to the apostle Paul through a vision.  Obviously God also revealed Himself through the giving of the Law, through the various prophets He raised up, and nowhere clearer than when He took on human flesh in Jesus Christ.  But the message is clear; God has, can and will reveal Himself in numerous different ways and we need to be open to His movements wherever we happen to be.

God seemed close yesterday when I visited the Upper, Middle and Lower falls of Stony Creek.  In the crested dwarf irises, bluets, star grass and lousewort flowers I beheld something of His glory.  It was one of those days when I was reminded that God is full of surprises and that one need not travel far to behold the beauty of Creation or the beauty of the Lord.  It was a wonderful day indeed.

–Chuck

(These are three images I took yesterday.  The top one is Upper Falls; the second one is Lower Falls.  The third image shows tiny flowers known as bluets.  The Falls of Stony Creek can be found in the Jefferson National Forest in southwestern Virginia.)