Lessons from a Creek Bed

parched-earth“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2

My parents live on a tributary of Elkhorn Creek. One summer, as a child, a terrible drought came and killed nearly everything. The creek bed became so barren and parched my Dad and I biked down it. Although I spent many summer days in the creek or walking on the banks, countless curiosities had been obscured and the drought brought clarity.

Later that summer heavy rains swelled the tributary and waters engulfed the banks, creating fierce rapids. Just as my Dad led me to the creek for a bike ride, he wanted me to experience (this force of nature and the fury of a storm). He said, “Jenny, let’s grab the canoe and put it in the creek.” I am someone who enjoys a nice, long pause before facing the potential of death. My Dad, on the other hand, is fearless and has no patience for my wimpiness. For some reason my Mom is ALWAYS on board when it involves pushing me beyond comfort. I heard my Mom say, “Have fun,” as she walked away. Not even a faint, “I love you precious, youngest child of mine who brings me joy.” Dad threw a life preserver my way and said, “You might need this.”

We carry the canoe to the edge of our property, my comfort, my safety. My Dad holds the canoe in the water then tells me to get in and go to the front. He says, “Do what I tell you to do and you will be fine. Don’t do it and you might die,” and we were off. The rapids rocked the canoe immediately. We quickly reached an overpass and found a cattle guard blocking our way. My Dad said, “Walk to the end of the canoe and push that out of the way.” I turned and said a weak, “What?” My Dad, being a Marine, does not like to repeat himself. He spoke slower as if I didn’t understand the words. I knew I did not have an option but fear of the unknown and unseen, gripped my body as rose slowly on shaking legs. I pushed the obstacle as he forcefully paddled to get us through. On the other side I began crying. My dad stared at me for a few seconds then said, “Kid, what’s wrong with you?” I choke out, “I’m scared.” He says the thing every child needs to hear in such a moment, “The worse that could have happened was you died. You didn’t die. You are crying for nothing.” He was right. I was crying for all the what-ifs.

This one summer revealed two perspectives: the drought and the storm. The drought gave me answers to questions I had for years. The arid landscape revealed all the threats that would impede me later, as though preparing me for what was to come.  The flood exposed me. It exposed my lack of faith in my abilities, my knowledge, and my lack of trust. I feared the unknown and relied only on what my eyes could see. Both times my Dad was right there with me. My Father sees things in me I cannot see myself. He knows I can, when I think I cannot. He puts me in uncomfortable situations to help me realize my faith, to trust and obey what He commands in the times of drought and storms. God is with me in all seasons of my life.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 This says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord, He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jennifer Whittaker writes devotional articles for Buck Run. You can read her work here every other week.