The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. (Genesis 7:17-23)
I have always been fascinated by the ocean. It’s strength. It’s depth. It’s unfathomable beauty.
I am both terrified and awed by it.
I wonder about the sea, the vast depths that, at the very deepest, is over 36,000 feet below sea-level. If Everest were planted at the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest part of the ocean yet measured by human beings found in the western Pacific – there would still be nearly 7,000 feet of water above its peak. Scientists estimate that only about 5% of the ocean’s seascape has been explored by human beings. That is a lot of unseen territory. But what we do know about the depths is pretty fantastic: lifeforms impervious to crushing pressure and total absence of sunlight, daily, violent volcano eruptions, deep-sea hotbeds that can reach temperatures up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, waterfalls as tall as 3.5 kilometres, and the existence of chemical substances that are yet to be understood, to name but a few. Humanity has vastly more knowledge and understanding of outerspace than they do of the myterious deep.
Recently on vacation in the north Pacific, I enjoyed watching my children frolick in the crashing waves that seemed to rough house them like a playful Saint Bernard. As a non-swimmer, I was extremely vigilant in keeping watch, shouting, “Closer, please,” whenever they inadvertently ventured further from the shoreline. At times, they would stand up straight to reassure me by revealing the relative depth of the water. But I would not be fooled: I’ve heard of violent undertows and, by instinct, am wary of that which I do not understand. The vast mysteries of the powerful deep, although breathtaking in sensual beauty, can also be literally breath-taking.
My husband and son are captivated by sea lifeforms. Much of their time in the water was spent decked out in breathing aparatus that allowed them to spend long periods of time under water, chasing various species of fish and other wildlife. I watched them in amazement, rear-ends sticking up above the sea-surface in hot pursuit, oblivious to life above. Indeed, what lies beneath is wonder-ful.
As I re-read Genesis with my children last night, I came upon this verse, captioned above. I am seeing something that I have always read, but have never really taken note of before: God used the waters to destroy sinful humanity and the earth’s surface, defiled by man’s presence. But He did not destroy the creatures of the deep, only those that dwelt on land and those of the air. Why, exactly, is this such a revelation to me?
I am, once again, struck by two things: the wonder of His Creation, and the inerrant truth of His Word that reveals, more and more, the realities of our physical world. The mysteries of the deep are no mystery at all when I contemplate the ways of the Almighty. When I ponder the lifeforms of the deep – an estimated one million species (although only about 230,000 have been observed), I marvel at how many of these might have existed since the day of Creation, never before seen by the human eye. I am amazed by their survivability, their indestructability. I wonder about God’s untenable instrument (the word used in the literal sense, not figurative sense, as in the French, “tenir” meaning “to hold”), singularly chosen for life and for destruction. I stand in awe of the power of the ocean, so acutely congruous to a mighty, unstoppable God.
By day’s end, I could stand it no longer. The refreshing draw of the glistening, salt-clean waters beckoned me. I jumped in. The surge of each wave lifted me up and threw me onto the sand like driftwood, entirely indifferent to my humanity. I had no control, could only succumb to the unspeakable force that could conceivably snap me in two like a twig. But as I realized that, this too, was the work of God, I suddenly became more at ease. I admired it, reveled at it. Respected it and revered it. Prayed for safety in it. Then, rejoiced in it. Jesus commanded the waters to be calm (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). Indeed, even in this, He is in control.
Alas, I laughed. Laughed long and hard as this miracle of God bobbed and tossed me about, throwing me safely back to the warm shore almost as soon as it had dragged me out, like a child given momentary reprieve from a tickling onslaught. My children and a few of those around us watched me in wonder, suddenly transformed from overly-cautious safety marm to giggling peer.
All I can say is, it was wonderful.
He gathered the oceans into a single place; He put the deep water into storehouses. Let all the world fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
(Psalm 33: 7-8)
Thank you, Lord God.