Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Whispers on the Water

I sit on a creek bank – an unexpected find. We signed the lease on this week's rental without having any idea that a small creek flowed alongside it. And so now I sit on its banks with a pen in my hand and a journal in my lap... listening to the gentle gurgling as it passes over the small rocks below me. Calming. Relaxing. Peaceful.

My mind flows to God's provision. He knows me so well... cares for me so well. To arrange for our rental unit to be the one right by the creek? A small little detail like that? I would have been fine without the creek. To discover it, though... especially after just recently beginning to see the pattern of water in my life? It was like getting a love letter from God.  He whispered His care in the sounds of the creek...  "See, Jenn?  I love you!"

I know not everyone has the same reaction to water. Even my own husband could take or leave lake living.  But
I love how it's somehow constant and changing all at the same time: a living, breathing body of life. It grounds me; centers me; calms me; heals me; restores me... but it doesn't do that for everyone.  Some even fear it.  I... I find comfort in it.

I'm only beginning to see that about myself. I'm also just beginning to see God's wonderful provision of it in my life.  Even when I didn't know myself well enough to see it, God has woven its comforting presence through my life. Sometimes I have sought it out - like choosing vacation accommodations on the shoreline for our trip to Washington. But sometimes, like today, God has woven it in without my seeking – just knowing me well enough to know what I needed... even when I didn't know myself....

Today, it brought reflection.  A sense of how deep and wide and marvelous is the love of God.  A sense of how intimately He knows me... how completely He understands me.... 

Over four decades ago, my parents gave me my name.  They didn't know (and I didn't know until recently) that one meaning of my middle name, Lynn, is a small lake. I believe God whispered that name to my parents. They may have liked the name Jennifer, but I believe God wanted me, some four decades later, to understand how intimately He knew me... how completely He understood that part of me and would provide for it. Lynn. Lake. He spoke quietly; moved mightily; using the intimate knowledge of how I was made to provide the exact refuge I needed.

My parents moved to the lake when I was 2½ years old. I ran and played along its shores with my best friend. I fished its depths with my grandpa. It was the scene of an idyllic childhood – one I've enjoyed watching my children getting to experience for the last few years. It was also my comfort and my refuge when the rest of the world wasn't so idyllic. No matter how bad the day was at school; no matter the teasing, taunting, or humiliation... I was always at home on the lake. I belonged.

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade and the cruelty of the world encroached even on the lake, its water closed over me: hiding; shielding; wrapping me in a cloak of comfort and belonging I desperately needed.  I'd been kicked off the raft we shared with our neighbors. There was no explanation given. I had no idea what I'd done to deserve the rejection. To make matters worse, it happened in front of my visiting family. I was humiliated and confused. I remember feeling the water closing in over me as I slunk off the raft and sank beneath the surface... shielding and hiding me as I swam away in the underwater silence. As I struggled to control my emotions, it washed my tears into its own waters before anyone could see them. It held me... comforted me.  It's an image that still grips me today. When I become upset, I still long to sink below the water and let it surround and comfort me... closing out the world around me.

It's only recently that I've recognized the provision of a creek in my childhood, though. It wasn't as constant as the lake. It was woven into my life for only a few short seasons. My sister and I played along its banks a handful of times. My abuser lived near that creek.  By exploring its banks while my parents visited, I was not only calmed by the water, but spared the discomfort of being inside with him (note: my parents didn't know about the abuse until many years later). God knew me – intimately – and wove the creek into my life when I didn't even recognize the refuge He had provided... or even that I needed it.

As I walked along the banks of another creek a few months ago, though, God brought that forgotten childhood creek to mind and then spoke to me using the words from Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear....

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.*

I believe God was telling me He placed that creek there for me – my refuge.  God doesn't dwell inside the city of Jerusalem anymore. He now resides in us... in me.  So... "There is a river whose streams make glad Jenn.... God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns." *

Using Psalm 46, He whispered to me of His provision of that childhood creek – showing me He'd been providing for me; understanding me; giving me refuge all along.  The whisper moved me deeply.  The thought that God would place a family along a creek to provide a refuge for me... to provide a place where I could be glad... where I could play in childhood innocence?  Wow. 

And so today, along the banks of another unexpected creek... an unexpected gift... I reflect on God's provision throughout my life.  The intimacy of it washes over me like the water over the rocks below me. I sit in awe and give thanks for the water... and for the God who knows me so well; provides for me so well; loves me so well. 

And as I sit listening to the creek... water... Living Water...  washes over me...  "See, Jenn?  I love you!"  Wow.  Just wow. :)


*Dawn is when enemy attacks usually occurred in the Old Testament, so "God will help her when morning dawns" could be read, "God will help her when the battle begins."