Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Northwest Passage, Part Two: Old Faithful

“Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” -Matt. 25:21 After a good night’s sleep in our cozy cabin, we headed into Yellowstone. As we drove through the Northeast gate of the famous Park, we knew we were headed somewhere special. As we meandered through the first couple of miles we were already seeing bison (buffalo) and prong horn deer. The park exploded into beautiful mountains, streams, wildlife and all kinds of vegetation. We were enjoying the journey, but our sites were set on the southern part of the Park and perhaps the most famous landmark of all: Old Faithful. There we would hear the best quote of our whole trip. Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in the south central part of the park. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name. It is one of the most predictable geographical features on Earth, erupting almost every 100 minutes. More than 137,000 eruptions of Old faithful have been recorded. Harry Woodward first described a mathematical relationship between the duration and intervals of the eruptions in 1938. Old Faithful is not the tallest or largest geyser in the park; those titles belong to the less predictable Steamboat Geyser. Prior to 1904, Waimangu Geyser, in New Zealand, had some taller eruptions capable of reaching 1,600 feet but in 1904 a landslide changed the local water table and since then Waimangu has not erupted. Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin likewise was taller, with eruptions reaching 300 feet. However, Excelsior has not erupted since 1985, and is now classified as a hot spring. As we waited near the base of Old Faithful, the crowd began to gather as the time for the eruption neared. As we were prepared our IPhones to take pictures and videos, a park ranger came and stood with us. He explained how the mechanisms of the geyser work and then casually commented, “Old Faithful may not be the largest or the highest, but it’s famous because it’s…well…faithful.” A few seconds later, the eruption began and it was beautiful. Later, I thought about his comment. Old Faithful isn’t really that remarkable at first sight. Yet hundreds of people gather every hour and surround the geyser. We come because it’s something we can count on. That’s why faithfulness is so attractive and magnetic. Of course, that’s true in people as well as geysers. I suspect that’s why there aren’t large crowds gathered at those geysers that go higher and larger. They’re too unpredictable. Somebody could stand for days and weeks waiting for those geysers to do their thing. They’re inconsistent. They’re unpredictable. Like the geysers, faithful people are preferred because you can count on them and journey through this life together. The Park Ranger explained why Old Faithful is so predictable. He said that the geyser has a unique constant flow of water below. He explained that most of the world’s geysers have irregular and shallow water sources, but not Old Faithful. It’s water source, down very deep, provides it with all the water it needs. The water pools in the cavern below, is heated by the magma, and eventually…BOOM…it rises to the surface, explodes and begins the process over again. Faithful people have a consistent source as well. It’s not fame or money or health. It’s the substance of a loving God that provides security and contentment and peace. When the God of the Universe fills a believer via love and salvation, a new source of water replaces the brokenness. When that water is heated and stirred, it produces a faithfulness that is attractive to people. Why? Not because of the cone itself but because of the faithfulness of the Source. Old Faithful doesn’t worry about whether it’s erupting correctly and it doesn’t compare itself to the higher and larger geysers. Old Faithful simply waits and trusts and yields. And every hour, its beauty is displayed for all to see. May our lives be a geyser that exists wherever God builds the cone and waits for His inward churning to produce its results. May we all be patient with His will and ways. Some days may seem like a fizzle while others may feel like a massive explosion. But the key is contentment in whatever results. Faithfulness isn’t about forcing the eruption- it is about resting on the source. May we all rest and grow old and faithful… …as we’re relying on our most faithful God. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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