How do you feel about waterfalls?
Depending on your perspective, they can be devastatingly beautiful or devastatingly dangerous… or both.
A few years ago, I memorized Genesis 50:20, where Joseph, who had become an important Egyptian official, reassures his brothers that, even though they sold him into slavery, God took care of him.
As a result his brothers’ cruelty, Joseph was able to rescue his family from the famine that had seized their land. Remarkably, Joseph’s time as a slave in Egypt was part of God’s plan.
Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
My memory hook for this verse was a waterfall because, from a distance, a waterfall is a beautiful thing. The rhythmic roaring of the water as it plunges into the pool below, the rainbow that forms as sunlight hits the water spray, the astounding energy that is produced as the earth’s gravity pulls the stream into the liquid below, all these things make waterfalls an amazing natural element.
From afar, waterfalls are beautiful, but if you are in a small row boat, headed toward the falls, they are also dangerous.
About 22 years after his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph was no longer at the head waters of those dangerous falls. In fact, he had suffered through the plunge and was able to look at his waterfall from the distance of time. After surviving the cascade, he could see its beauty, and he could assure his brothers that God’s plan, no matter how scary, is trustworthy.
I was reminded of my memory hook for Genesis 50:20 when I recently memorized Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
I realized that the writer of Psalm 42 was still rushing toward his waterfall when he wrote this Psalm. He was, no doubt, experiencing the same fear Joseph felt when his brothers sold him to a bunch of strangers.
This is what I love about how the Holy Spirit can speak to me through the Scripture memory method I use. The memory hook He gave me in the form of a waterfall for Genesis 50:20 pointed me toward the same truth of God’s faithfulness in Psalm 42.
These verses also remind me of when our son, Jared, was about 4 years old. I don’t know what event sparked his fear, but Jared suddenly developed this “thing” about not wanting to put his head underwater. It became a major production just to wash his hair. (Looking back on this phase of Jared’s life, his fear is even more puzzling because he became a bit of a daredevil a few years later, boldly performing risky tricks on his bike and skateboard.)
When Jared’s water worries began, our daughter, Sydney, who is 17 months older, was taking swimming lessons. She was splashing around like a little fish, but Jared would only play in the water if he was sure he didn’t have to get his head wet.
Since my mother had a pool, my husband and I were concerned for Jared’s safety. We had to find a way to convince him that learning to swim would be fun, but no amount of coaxing could assure our little boy that he could get his head wet without suffering dire consequences.
Jared’s “don’t-get-my-head-wet” policy went on for weeks, and we kept looking for ways to show him that putting your head underwater is not a big deal.
Finally, one day, Sydney convinced Jared to sit with her in my mom’s hot tub. She told him about how good the bubbles would feel on his back, and she assured him he could sit in the Jacuzzi without getting his precious little head wet.
As “Grammy,” the kids, and I settled into the hot tub, Jared began to relax and enjoy the feeling of the warm water massaging his back. Then, Big Sister Sydney patiently demonstrated how her swimming instructor had taught her to blow bubbles and how to hold her breath underwater.
Within a few minutes, Sydney convinced Jared he could be completely immersed in water without dying. So, he stood up in the hot tub, held his nose, and bent his little legs so that his head sunk below the surface of the water. Then, he quickly popped back up, laughing joyously. His fear was gone!
“Now, I can get baptized!” he excitedly announced.
I’m happy to report that as a teenager, Jared enjoyed a variety of watersports with his friends. Water skiing, jet skiing, wake boarding, he dabbled in any watersport that was available to him.
If we had not been able to convince our little Jared that, even though water can be dangerous, it can also be fun, he would have missed out on many water adventures with his friends.
Jared’s fear of water reflects the fear that we Christians have of being fully committed to God. While we’re wading in the kiddie pool, afraid to get our heads wet, God is calling us to get into the deep end of the pool with Him.
God wants us to immerse ourselves completely in Him, but we’re afraid to give up the security of the shallow end of the pool. We struggle mightily, expending all our energy, to keep our heads above water.
It’s dangerous to go into the deep end, but what will we miss if we don’t even try?
Ephesians 3:19 says, “ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
God wants us to know Him to the greatest extent we, as human beings, are able.
What a wonderful invitation! What an opportunity! Don’t let fear rob you of this privilege!
The meaning of Psalm 42:7 has always been hard for me to grasp, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
When you read this verse in context, it’s clear the psalmist is in distress, but he chooses to trust God, even when he’s being beaten up by “waves and breakers.”
I always thought “deep calls to deep” was such a lyrical phrase. When I took the time to try to understand it, I realized the writer could hear God calling him, even in the roar of the waterfall.
The depth of God calls to our depth, inviting us to jump in and experience life abundantly…fully immersed.
Swimming around in the shallows of your Christian life may be safer, but it won’t be as fulfilling as living a little dangerously in the deep end.
Father, help me to take off my water wings and fill my spiritual lungs with the fullness of You. Give me the courage to dive deeply.