There is a waterfall here on campus. Though normally loud and stormy it has been even more so lately. Downpours of rain have fueled its fires and caused it to be all the more violently powerful. Its sight is beautiful though fierce and its sound is soothing though loud. A cool breeze often sweeps over and around it to add to the comfort of its place. We fellows have often come and sat at its feet while spending time with our Lord.
The stream that follows it has also been overflowing lately. Though it is quieter than the waterfall, it has its own sort of peace with it. It is steady and gentle, and passively floats downward taking its time to get where it is going, unlike the waterfall. It is easier to sit beside and calmer to watch. Its shores too have been a place we have rested in our Lord’s presence.
Week 2 has just ended here at Palavra da Vida camp in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the campers have gone home. We are now preparing to say goodbye to our dear Brazilian partners, and then taking a day to rejuvenate before moving on in our trip. Over the past week, God has obviously been at work amongst us. For some, he has been as obvious as a waterfall — raging and storming so powerfully that we cannot help but stand in awe at his might. For others, his presence has been more like a stream — steady and quiet, but still present though not as fierce. In both cases, he moves, but he does so in different ways with different aspects of his nature magnified to us. We just have to have eyes to see.
During our more difficult times, we often want God to show up like a waterfall. We want his power and might to sweep all of our problems away, or at least to show himself in such a way so that we can boldly attack the issues facing us. Seldom does he; instead, he often asks us to abide and trust that he is steadily moving in the trial and to take comfort in his peaceful presence. He calmly guides us through the troubles, not pushing us too hard, but teaching us as we go and strengthening us. Sure, a powerful demonstration of his might would be wonderful, but a gentle caring and nurturing of growth is often a steadier demonstration of love. Though it is slower, eventually it allows us to look back and see his movements and understand his great Fatherly love for us.
He does sometimes choose to reveal himself in power though. When and how he does, we can never guess. But one thing is certain: God is not subject to our whims and complaints. He will not make fire fall from the sky at our command just because we feel like it, or get us out of a tough assignment just because we don’t like it. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) God sometimes uses difficult situations to teach valuable lessons. That is why he sometimes says no to our requests for miracles. It does not hurt to ask, however, and I believe he wants us to ask. Unfortunately, often we are too afraid to ask for him to display his power. We do not like putting our pride on the line for the sake of our faith. I believe that this is exactly why we should ask.
Likewise, when we see ourselves serving others we often imagine ourselves on big stages doing obvious things for the sake of the kingdom — things amazing like a waterfall. But the reality is, just like a stream, moving quietly and gently is still moving. In camp we were not serving with flashy demonstrations of our humility; we were living behind the scenes, being served ourselves often, and giving whatever ways we could. We swept floors, carried props, took pictures — mostly working in the background. Jesus himself served in such a way. Though he gave great exhibits of his own power, he lived his life in servitude washing the feet of the people who denied him. In other words, he was both like a stream and like a waterfall. This is a beautiful thing.
Let us have eyes to see the way God is moving in our lives now. And let us have hope that whether he is moving in power or gently he is always moving in those who love him. That is the same no matter the individual, culture, or place. What a wonderful truth.