A Tale of Two Waterfalls

 In Preaching & Teaching

Norma and I have been blessed this year to vacation at opposite ends of the country. In March we went to Hawaii and had a great time soaking in that state’s tropical splendor; then in July we went to Niagara Falls with family to enjoy this natural spectacle.

Niagara Falls is an attraction that is hard to wrap your head around. Just two of the amazing facts about Niagara Falls. First, the average flow rate of water over the Falls is 85,000 cubic feet per second; this flow rate is ongoing, second after second, minute after minute, day after day, year after year. Second, the area of land that collects the rainfall that provides this water is about 264,000 square miles. This is a big chunk of Canada and the United States centered on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie. If you take the Maid of the Mist boat ride to below Horseshoe Falls the sound of the rushing water is deafening, a thunderous cacophony of falling water. If you take the Cave of the Winds tour and stand on the Hurricane Deck a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of the water that comes from Bridal Veil Falls can stagger you if you are not ready for it. Power, majesty, and great strength are on display at Niagara Falls, an unstoppable flow of water.


Hawaii has many beautiful waterfalls and we viewed some of them. But one day as I walked along a road near our hotel, I faintly heard running water and wondered where it came from. I stepped into the undergrowth and discovered a small creek tumbling toward the sea. I suppose the creek has a name, but this small fall of water undoubtedly does not. I expect it has never appeared on the cover of any travel brochure luring visitors to the island of Kauai as its more spectacular cousins have. The environment here was quiet, peaceful, and secluded next to this stream, perhaps a place to take a nap listening to the bubbling brook.

As I reviewed photos, I had taken on both trips a passage of Scripture came to mind:

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Kings 19:9-13 ESV)

Niagara Falls reminded me of the wind and the earthquake and the fire that Elijah experienced, loud, powerful, overwhelming. Great awe is inspired by natural occurrences such as these. But the Scriptures tell us that the LORD was not in these events. Instead, Elijah heard a low whisper, perhaps a gentle murmur like the Hawaiian creek, and the Scriptures inform us that Elijah went to the entrance of the cave to meet with the LORD.

Sometimes we look for God to give us a great sign, a loud command, a stirring experience. We want something so obvious that we surely can’t miss it, and then we will know what to do. So, we wait, and we wait, but in vain. However, God will speak with us on His own terms, and we must be attentive to His voice which may be as a low whisper or a dancing brook. Do you hear His voice? “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 ESV)


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