Last summer, I spent a few days at Niagara Falls with my parents and my then-fiance. We’re a camping family, so we hooked up our very old pop-top camper to my dad’s new-to-him car (which, by the way, had no air conditioning) and drove our way to the Falls.
I’d been to the Falls once before, on a family trip many years ago. I don’t remember much about that trip – I’m pretty sure we stopped on the way to visit a college for me to look at. And it was just a quick, get out of the car, look at the water, and then get back in the car kind of trip. This time, I fully intended on seeing every aspect of the Falls that I could (from both Canada and the US) and enjoying the time with my family.
When you walk up to the Falls, you can feel the mist on your face. You can see the mist rising from far away. But not until you reach the edge do you really get to see the majesty and beauty of this water. Four of the five great lakes flow into the Falls, but that’s not what makes it impressive.
To me, it’s the roar of the water, the sheer power that falling water has. It’s loud, and wet, of course. Water has been revered by many religious groups for centuries. It’s necessary to keep you alive, and makes up much of your body mass. But the water from the faucet or the shower pales in comparison the power that water has falling over the rocks at Niagara.
There’s a place on both sides of the Falls that you can go behind the falls, or straight under it. If you thought it was loud before, think again. Standing just feet from the curtain of rushing water, you can barely hear yourself think. There’s a reason most people who go over the Falls don’t survive. They are powerful.
But what makes them so powerful isn’t the distance that the water falls, or the volume of the water that flows over the side. It’s what happens before the fall, and underneath the water, that matters. The majesty and beauty of the falls only comes because of what is underneath all of the water rushing down the river before hand.
If you walk back along the water coming to the Falls on the American side, you see rocks causing the water to flow faster and in a different direction. You see uprooted trees and trees growing sideways to direct the flow of the water. Years of erosion have made the silt, sand, and mud on the bottom of the lakes jagged in some places and smooth in others – but you can’t see that. It’s hidden by the water.
The rocks and trees and sand and silt are what make the water flow the way it does, and what makes the Falls so powerful. It’s all the stuff you can’t see that makes what you can see so beautiful and majestic.
We’re that way too, aren’t we? God has to work on the stuff that people can’t see on the inside before we can be the glorious and beautiful image of Himself. Before the waterfall can be powerful and majestic, what’s underneath the surface must be shaped and molded in just the right way.
How is God working on your rocks and trees and sand and silt to make you the waterfall that everyone wants to see and wants to talk about? His image can only be made perfect in you when you let Him work on the inside, the hard stuff. The rocks and the trees.
I pray that in this new year, you allow God to work on those things that the world can’t see, so that what the world does see is Him.