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A God of Waters

As I mentioned before, I’ve been listening to Bible stories on CD with my four-year-old son as we drive to school or about town. The series is made for kids about my son’s age, but I’m discovering there are some advantages to this approach to Scripture. The series focuses mostly on the major stories with a few minor ones thrown, so it moves fairly quickly through the larger Story—which is helping me nail down timelines and fit them into the overall arc of the narrative. And they’re making me go back and read the narratives in Scripture itself (always a good thing in my book).

Hearing all these stories back to back, I’m also beginning to notice things I hadn’t before—the most recent being that God seems to have a thing for parting waters. So far, my son and I have gotten through the stories of Elisha and we’ve heard about at least four water partings. There’s the parting of the Red Sea, when “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea . . . . and the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 15:21-22). Later, at Joshua’s leading, there’s the crossing of flood-staged Jordan, whose waters “piled up in a great heap a great distance away” as soon as the priests carrying the ark “reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,” and all the people passed through “on dry ground” (Joshua 3:15-17). Then, most recently, we heard about the parting of the same river by Elijah and Elisha, like watery bookends to Elijah being taken “up to heaven in a whirlwind” and Elisha’s taking up the mantel of prophet. First, Elijah rolls up his cloak and strikes the water and “the water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.” After Elijah goes up to heaven in that whirlwind, Elisha picks up the dropped cloak, stands on the bank of the Jordan and strikes the water with it: “it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over” (2 Kings 2).

I’m not sure why these watery events stand out to me. They seem to have a mixture of purpose and meaning. Two seem like the crossing of barriers, but one is a barrier to escape while the other is a hurdle to be crossed to a promised land. The other two are more like the crossing of thresholds, with one who’s at the end of his earthly life and on his way to heaven while the other’s at the beginning of his and ushered into prophet-hood.

I suppose what strikes me most, though, is that each crossing is a matter of faith. A choice to trust beyond what we see. A choice to take that step into those places “that cannot be seen,” where “the scope of our vision is too small for our strides.” A choice to believe God is who he says, does what he says, will do what he says. A choice to walk with God in that wild and water-parting Kingdom of his.

And I suppose underneath it all is that haunting awe of a God who does such things—and does them through the hands, feet and clothes of those who walk with him.


(Image: mine)

Comments

Carmen, can you give a link to the CD's to which you are referring? I'd like to ck them out!
Carmen Andres said…
hiya, beth! i got them at a dollar store (10 CDs for $1 each, but i'm missing the first one), but this is them on amazon. like i said before, they are told for kids my son's age, so they aren't straight scripture but retold in a simplier form with some liberities. i was surprised by how well the guy tells the stories. (i wasn't sure what to expect for $1 each.) anyway, we really like them. my son asks every time we get in the car if we are going to listen to them. this desire to hear the Story is just what i'd hoped would happen.
Cool! Unfortunately, I can't find them anywhere online as cheap as you were able to find them locally. But, the search has begun! *wink* Thanks for the info!
FWIW, water was pretty much synonymous with "chaos" to the cultures of that time, and the myths produced by those cultures often involved gods defeating the chaotic waters and bringing them under control. So the Hebrews who told and heard these stories would have understood them in that context, too. (And connections of that sort may have been made by Jesus' disciples, too, with regard to his walking on water during the storm.)
Carmen Andres said…
peter, thanks for that. i did a bit of skimming online to see what i could find out about water in hebrew understanding, but didn't find much. understanding God's action through his people on water in terms of bringing chaos under control is quite beautiful when i think about it. a slice through darkness with light. blessings.