My family has a lake house located in upstate New York on one of the five finger lakes. If you walk outside of our lake house and down about a quarter of a mile you will find a creek that begins somewhere and empties out into the freezing lake. If you happen to follow the creek up from where it empties into the lake you will eventually dead end into the bottom of a water fall. It takes about two miles or so to reach the bottom of the first of many waterfalls and when you arrive you are taken aback back the sheer beauty of the creation.
One of my favorite things to do is to climb up to the base of the waterfall where there is a little pool that collects and filters the running water coming off the rocks with amazing force. The pool stretches eight feet wide, six feet long, and God only knows how deep. The water is colder than cold and has a clear brown color to it. Just on the other side of the pool and just before you fall off a smaller waterfall about six feet tall, there sits a flat rock, it stands one inch above the cascading water and is around four feet in diameter. It is a dangerous place to walk out on because of the rushing water and the slippery surface, a wrong step could send you falling those six feet to the rocks beneath. However, there is something I love to experience when I am alone at the base of this waterfall. I love to walk out on those slippery rocks, sit down in the cold water, and feel the rush and sprays of the chilling water as it thrashes off the rocks and sprays into my face. There is a rushing wind that helps the spraying water travel farther than if the water simply fell down on its own.
As I sit there on my rock I close my eyes and feel the rushing wind and the spraying mist and listen to the sound of the crashing and thrashing water all around me. There comes, in these moments, feelings of something greater than myself, something Holy and also terrifying at the same time and I get a sense of angels standing around me, guarding this masterpiece created and formed my God Himself.
Last week I journeyed on a hike to this sacred place. After my time alone by the water and wind I journeyed back down the flowing creek. As I walked along I noticed the pools of standing water I found laying on top of massive boulders. I reached into the flowing water and picked up little stones and I thought about how these stones used to be a part of something much larger and far greater. These stones were once a part of a massive mountain, after being thrashed and beaten by the water and the wind and the elements they had become separated and found themselves at the bottom of a cold creek. I picked up a large rock that was shaped like an egg and was the size of a football. I picked the rock up and threw it as high into the air as I could and waited for it to smash into pieces against the ground. Eventually it split precisely in half and as I looked inside I knew that I was the first person to stare into the center of this formation in literally thousands of years and that was humbling to think, here was something forged over centuries, made by the wind and the water and the heat and the cold and the surrounding elements. A rock that had been created millions of years ago and was what it was because of the trials it had endured. It was not ground to powder, it was still big and still strong.
In my life I want God to work in me rather quickly. I want the millions of years of process to be condensed into a single prayer or a single encounter or a single church service. While there are times when God will change me in a moment, there is still a process to endure, there is still a life to walk out, there are still elements I must face that will not grind me into a powder but will shape me and form me and make me who I will eventually become. The trials I face today will only make me who I am tomorrow.
What process have we avoided in life because the pain was too strong? What elements do we need to experience that we have ran from because we were insecure? How can we embrace the process for change and not lose ourselves along the way?