The Top of the Waterfall
by Katherine Britton
"My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you." – Isaiah 26:9
As I looked up the path – and up, and up – I couldn’t even see the head of the waterfall. The last cataract foamed in front of me, but the first was far up on mountain, where the sunlight hit the summit. I wanted to see more.
The trail was relatively easy, but I was huffing and puffing before long thanks to the incline. The trail snaked back and forth across the mountain, taking us up a fifty feet with each turn. The second, third, and fourth cataracts appeared, and we clambered onward after each one, still intent on seeing that first drop. In the words of C. S. Lewis, the lure of “further in and further up” kept us going, as beauty upon beauty made us eager to see even more.
The view didn’t disappoint us. The autumn panorama spread over the surrounding hills, contrasted in highlight and shadows from the afternoon sun. Everyone at the summit was smiling and taking pictures. Nobody sat with their back against the view. To our right, the head of the waterfall rushed on, flowing over the first drop. Nothing in the suburbs compares with what we saw.
What is it about a waterfall – or anything natural wonder – that makes us stop and stare? What is it about a rainbow that keeps us looking for the next one? Why is Niagara Falls so famous? Why does the human soul dream of places so far from what we normally experience? Why do we keep following the path until we see the greatest beauty of all?
I think such scenes are part of God’s mercy to the whole world, because they teach us what it means to hunger for more. They give us a glimpse of the time when we can drink so deeply that our thirst will be quenched. Like in the Narnia books, they shadow the real thing, when we will be in God’s eternal presence. Do we hunger for that?
Scripture is full of references to this kind of longing. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes of “seeing dimly, as in a mirror,” as he waits to see the true nature of love revealed. Roman 8:18-27 empathizes with all of creation’s “groaning” as it waits to see the full glory of God revealed. After all, “who hopes for what he already has?”
As I remember that panorama – and how I want to go back – I consider those verses of longing after God. The more I know and see of God’s character, the more I should be amazed and want to see even more. Someday, every Christian will experience the joy of seeing the fullness of the Lord displayed, but until then, we see one beauty at a time as we keep going. Are you satisfied with the small glimpses, or does the summit beckon you?
Intersecting Faith & Life: While each cataract on the way up the falls had a beauty all its own, I didn’t want to stop until I had seen it all. This week, I want to ask myself daily: am I content with my faith journey, stopping before I should? Or does each new sight give me a thrill that spurs me on to see even greater heights? Let’s encourage each other to keep going, and to seek to know our God more each day.
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."