He got up before dawn that day, sat down at his desk and penned this letter to his fiance:
In the years to come do not ever doubt how much I loved you.
I am filled with much sadness as I write this letter. Sadness because I will never hold you in my arms again. Sadness because we will not enjoy our wedding day. Sadness because we will not have a family or grow old together.
No doubt by the time this letter reaches you you will have heard of my death. I hope that you will remember me as a courageous and honorable man who was willing to die for a cause he desperately believed in. I do not regret my decision – my only regret is that I cannot look into your eyes, tell you again how much I love you, and kiss you one last time.
One day all this craziness will be over and life will be normal again. My hope is that you will find love again and enjoy your life knowing that you were very very loved.
All my love,
Last week Nona and I took a few days and went to the western part of NC and did some waterfall chasing. We saw 15 waterfalls in 2 days, put 40,000+ steps on our fitbits, and had a great time exploring some of the beauty of God’s creation.
We visited Skinny Dip Falls, Lower Graveyard Falls, Soco Falls, Mingo Falls, Dry Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Glen Falls, Upper Whitewater Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, High Falls, Triple Falls, Hooker Falls (these last 3 were all at Dupont State Park) Pearson’s Falls, and Catawba Falls. Nine of those included hikes to get to them which made the experience richer as we got away from the more touristy falls and out into nature.
One of the things that we marveled at was the amount of water that came over the falls we visited – that just kept coming and coming and coming. An unceasing flow of thunderous water that provided a majestic, awe-filled spectacle of nature that was wondrous to behold. It was in many ways a spiritual experience. When author Charles Dickens first visited Niagara Falls in 1842 he made this statement, “When I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one—instant lasting—of the tremendous spectacle, was Peace.” There is very much a sense of enjoying God’s nearness while marveling at His creative genius.
Here is an interesting story about Niagara Falls. It is estimated that about 30 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. I was one of those people when I was about 10 years old. (And a bit of an adventurous daredevil as you can tell from the picture). It really is an amazing sight even if it is so touristy. But if you happened to be a visitor to the Falls on March 30, 1848 you would have been very disappointed. The mighty Niagara had slowed down to a mere trickle. The bed of the river was exposed. Fish died. Turtles floundered about. People were able to walk on the river bottom. For about 30-40 hours the waterfall ceased to exist.
So what happened? Well, it turns out that huge chunks of ice had formed at the northeastern tip of Lake Erie blocking the lake’s outlet into the head of the Niagara River. The ice jam had become an ice dam and the bottleneck effectively stopped the flow of water over the Falls.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Psalm 42 says:
1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?…
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
When the love of God washes over us like the rejuvenating waters of a refreshing waterfall then our souls are nourished and we can almost literally hear God singing over us. But when we choose sin over obedience, our ways over His ways; when we walk a wayward path and turn our face away from His; when the things of this world become more important to us than the things of His Word – then the music stops. The Lord seems far far away. And the refreshing waters cease.
I hope you will take this lesson to heart – and whenever you find yourself chasing waterfalls stop and ponder the deep deep love of God and let it wash over you and nourish your soul.
Never forget that you are very loved!
Happy Hoshana Rabbah!
OK, let me explain. This is another lesson in your Jewish heritage.
Today is the last day of the Jewish Festival known as The Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot or The Feast of Ingathering.) It was one of the three festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform an annual pilgrimage to the Temple and it commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.
It was a seven day festival. And there were several rituals that had become a part of the celebration. One involved building make shift tents to live in for the week. One involved the waving of palm branches. But another one has special significance in relation to Jesus.
By the time of the first century, a water pouring ceremony had become part of the tradition of the festival. The priests would go down to the pool of Siloam and they would fill a golden vessel with the water there. They would then go up to the temple, through the Water Gate, accompanied by the sound of the shofar, and would pour the water so that it flowed over the altar, along with wine from another bowl.
John 7:37-38 records…
“On the last day of the feast, the great day (Hoshana Rabbah), Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Jesus used the symbolism of this ritual at The Feast to identify Himself as the Messiah – the One whom the Jewish people were watching, waiting, and praying for. Some people believed. Some did not. (John 7:40-44) For those who did – it was indeed a “great day”! The Hebrew words Hoshana Rabbah literally mean “the great salvation.” And that is exactly what Jesus is.
There are many many people that you will see this week who are spiritually thirsty – whose soul’s are parched and are yearning to be refreshed. Perhaps the Lord will use you to offer them a drink of “living water.” Perhaps the Lord will use you to make it “a truly great day” for someone today.
Happy Hoshana Rabbah!
Never forget that you are very loved!