During my visit to Buffalo to see my friend John, we visited Niagara Falls State Park. One of the things we did was ride the Maid of the Mist, a boat journey that travels to the Horseshoe Falls. The boat rides into a space where the falls come down in three directions, creating an enormous mist in the open space inside the three falls.
As the boat comes closer to the falls, the water we traveled through was wild and completely white-capped. We were all soon soaked (albeit somewhat protected by our rain ponchos). As we got even closer, we went from being able to see only about 10 feet in front of us to not being able to see anything at all.
It was an intense experience. It is a bit daunting to be moving forward in a boat when you can’t see what it is in front of you. It was impossible to tell how close we were to the falls or to any obstructions that might have been in the water. We had to simply trust that the pilot of the ship knew where he was going.
I later watched from above the Horseshoe Falls as another boat like the one I had been on took the same trip. This time, I watched as the boat itself almost diasppeared from view into the mist. I knew it was there, but I could not see it at all.
You know where I’m going with this…where my thoughts were as I spent time first in and then outside watching that mist. First, my experience on that boat is a good metaphor for our lack of sight. So often we can not see the road ahead, we don’t know where the next step will take us. We go forward anyway, step by step. Sometimes we are a little fearful and sometimes perhaps more than a little fearful. Yet we know that we can rest secure in the knowledge that God is our pilot and that even if we can’t see the road ahead, God can.
Not that we can always see God, and that is the second part of the lesson. Just as I knew that ship was still there even though I could no longer see it in the mist, we can count on God being there even in those moments when we can’t see or feel God’s presence. We can be as sure of that presence as I was that the boat was still there, simply hidden by the mist.
You can learn a lot watching the mist of a waterfall.