To the Sea's End

April 5, 2023 | Kevin Perry

I’m glad I started writing this blog weeks ago because words are hard to come by lately. Here we are at Holy Week: the literal worst-week-turned-best-week ever. Reflecting on this week I was thinking about something that may seem a little strange—water.

In scripture, deep bodies of water are constantly associated with death and chaos. It makes sense if you think about it. Ancient people didn’t know what was down in the depths. The sea was deadly and dark. You go down in it...and you die.

At the beginning of scripture, the earth is described as "without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep.” The Spirit of God hovers over this deep and starts moving, creating, and declaring it “good.” A few pages later God judges rebellious people with a flood of water. One book later, Israelites are delivered through the Red Sea to live while Pharaoh’s army dies in its depths. Even still today we baptize in water—buried with him in death yet rising out of it to new life.

But there is another water in scripture: flowing water.

Every child should have the chance to grow up near flowing, moving, roaring water. My earliest childhood neighborhood had the mother of all creeks running through it. This creek was the epicenter of everything good and fun in the universe to us kids in the neighborhood. We built forts by the creek. We’d have club meetings by the creek. We’d hide out at the creek. And if you fell in the creek?  That was a badge of honor.

I remember one day we had an out-of-town pastor and his wife visiting in our home. We were on high alert as a family. You would have thought the King and Queen of England were visiting and I was the downstairs crew from Downton Abbey. By decree of my father, the creek was off-limits.

But alas—it was raining that day. That changes everything. Whenever it rained, the creek would swell into a glorious river of rapids. To be told not to go was like being told you can only stare at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory while having a golden ticket in hand.

You could hear the creek roaring all throughout the neighborhood. It called to me. My across-the-street buddy and I answered that call. We HAD to go check it out.

So we did.

And I fell in. 

Not only did I fall in, but I got absolutely slathered in mud trying to get out. My clothes glistened dark brown from head to toe and my water-bloated shoes felt like they weighed 100 pounds each. I was a sight.

We figured going home in such a state was not an option. I mean you’d just as soon open up my front door and let a wild pig run through the house. My buddy and I decided we would take shelter from the rain under the tarp of my go-kart until we could think of a decent plan to get out of the situation.

Nothing came to mind and instead we got to laughing so incredibly hard about our predicament that I proceeded to…well…throw up all over myself. Soaking wet, freezing, sick, and out of options…I decided to surrender and go inside.

I don’t remember what happened when I flung open our living room door and stepped into the presence of my parents and their guests. Maybe I’ve blocked it out subconsciously. I’ve always imagined a blur of 80’s clothing speckled by coffee cups dropping to the ground in slow motion while epic opera music plays. The muddy wet puke covered prodigal son had returned—and he was probably gonna be grounded for quite a while. It may not have been the best day, but I still would have told you that every child should have the chance to grow up beside roaring waters like that.

Flowing water in scripture is life-giving. God’s plan from the beginning was to dwell with mankind, so He planted them in Eden with a river flowing out of it to nourish the land and people. The Lord exhorts Israel in Amos 5 to let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Psalm 23 famously likens the comfort and care of God to being led to “peaceful streams.”

And then there’s Jesus. He had a lot to say and do with water.

He’s the One who promised hearts flowing with rivers of living water.” He’s the One the disciples mistook for a ghost out on the sea. The God-man was walking on death—echoing the opening page of the Bible as the One who hovers over the deep and the dark again.

When a spear pierced His side on the cross, blood and water flowed from the wound. This is the One greater than Jonah who would plumb the deepest waters of death…but the One who also had a pathway out. A path that leads to the last place the angel shows John in the book of Revelation. The last setting we see Jesus in our bible—a river. 

And that's the sound of Easter for me this year. A roaring river flowing with life and healing. I want to remember that’s where we’re headed.

The sea? Gone says John. He has led us through it. Death is no more. Our mud and sick-stained clothes are a distant memory. We’ll be home—reunited with those of the Lamb who have gone before. Friends. Parents. Siblings. Children.

Until then, we work and wait with eyes fixed on our Hope and horizon at the sea’s end. There, with the light of the Lamb who sits upstream, we’ll get to be children all over again. Some for the first time praise be to God.  Children of God together—who get to grow up into eternity beside roaring waters.

Your road led through the sea,
your pathway through the mighty waters—  
a pathway no one knew was there!   
Psalm 77:19

And the one sitting on the throne said, Look, I am making everything new!”  
Revelation 21:5