This huge tunnel is a drainage from a dam just a few hundred feet away. It empties into the Green River in a canyon in Utah. There are warnings along the river that it might suddenly rise by six feet. That’s scary when you’re hiking the river’s edge.
Of course, we were completing our hike when we saw this a few weeks ago, and we thought the signs along the trail about wearing life jackets were only for rafters. I still think they might have been, but as we considered it, we realized that a sudden increase in flow rate of the river would have likely swept us away. That’s one of the things about exploring a new place. You don’t always understand the hidden–or not so hidden–dangers.
For instance, two days ago we went hiking in the mountains. There were manmade signs on our route warning that this was moose country (I love Wyoming!). We had only ever seen one moose in the wild in our lives, and that was near the Rocky Moutain National Park several years ago. It was such a rare treat we didn’t really expect to see one again. Until we did. He was on our trail, and he was young–possibly young enough to have a mama nearby. We stood watching him in awe, then skedaddled back the way we had come. We are prepared for pretty much any kind of animal attack, but the thought of actually being forced to hurt an animal in any way, even in self-defense, was enough to make us move elsewhere, especially from a mama moose simply protecting her young.
Sometimes Mel and I get philosophical–some might call it maudlin–and consider how many times in our lives we’ve had a sudden surprise appear to sweep us off our foundation of confidence the way that river could have washed us away. We’ve lost a lot of loved ones. When parents or parent figures–such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, even cousins–are taken from us, it figuratively knocks our feet out from under us and we feel adrift. Not only do we suffer the loss of someone vital in our lives, but we lose part of ourselves. Wise counselors have said forever that we will recover from a loss, but I disagree. I don’t think we ever recover. We might set a new path, find a new normal, but my life has never been the same after a death of a loved one. That’s because the impact of that person’s life on me has counted. I want my new normal to honor that person’s influence.
Job changes, a move away from my hometown, the devastation of divorce, the dishonor of someone we once admired and depended on, betrayal by a friend, all can knock us sideways and send us tumbling. So many things in life can change the flow for us. That’s when we discover that our only foundation can be Christ. Yes, I know we can blame Him for the pain and surprises and loss in our lives, but really, how can we blame Him unless we believe? In other words, even if we are angry with God, He’s still our foundation, and we believe He is the one allowing these losses. If He is allowing them, then He can hold onto us as we go through them, and He will be there for the next loss, and the next.
It would seem that I’m saying to use faith in Christ as a life jacket for our virtual flooded rivers but it’s much more than that.
See this tree? It’s in the river. See this rock? The tree is growing out of it. This is how I see myself in Christ. Even if the river washes over this tree, it clings to the rock.
When life knocks me down, I grab onto the only foundation that is firm, and that is Christ. How I wish I were better about grasping that Foundation every day. I do believe that life’s hardships are there to build our faith, strengthen us, refine us. We just don’t like it. From experience, however, I have discovered that this foundation in Christ never lets me down, no matter how I feel about it at the time, no matter how I react. This thought, alone, keeps me calmer than I might have been.
Life is always going to surprise us. We can become bitter, or we can allow it to work for us, to grow us into something more, to increase our faith and our hope and our love. We can also allow it to increase our dependence on Christ. The greatest of these is love.