The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19
During the Summer months, out on our coast, there are ‘super-low’ tide days. This is some kind of counter-balance, I assume, to the super-high tides of Fall and Spring, but none-the-less, there are days where, at mid-day, in the back-country, where it seems there is no water left in the Sound. It is like God pulled the plug on the ocean and forgot to put it back at the right time.
The breeze stops, the birds are gorged on creek shrimp and must sit down in the mud, too full to eat or fly, just sleep. The smell of mud and decay is heavy on the moist sticky air. There is no water for the skiff, and the spartina grass appears to be higher than my head. The back-country fish all appear to have gotten the memo and headed for the ocean. The oysters are tempting, reminding me of those ice-cold winter days where I would break off a chunk and pry open a dozen for a mid-Winter snack. But in Summer, the risk of eating a deadly half-shell is very real, and I leave them alone.
It would be easy to be depressed in the sultry midday heat, except for the fact that I’m confident something will soon happen to my predicament. Even without a storm on the horizon, I know a mysterious trickle of water will appear, and soon I’ll be rescued by the ever-predictable tide. It comes creeping into my mud-hole, slowly at first. And then, at an excruciatingly slow yet steady pace, my skiff is free from the grips of the mud.
I can now pole my way out of the morass, learning as I go, where the deep edges are, where the oyster beds are thick, where the dangers lie beneath the normal high levels of water that coat the back-country.
If there is one blessing that comes from the super-low tide, it is this deeply personal perspective on the normally submerged terrain. The oyster beds tell me where the trout will be in the Fall, and my low-tide snacks will be in the Winter. A school of shrimp go popping past me, making that distinct snapping sound as they swim away from the Pinfish and Puppy Drum that are chasing them out of the channel 300 yards away. Next the Mullet schools stream past, this time chased by larger Drum.
It’s like the back-country is open for business again, and as my pole seems to find deeper and deeper water as I push the boat toward the channel, I almost forget my predicament two hours earlier, where it seemed there was no life, no chance of rescue, no movement, and no food.
2020 might just be the strangest, toughest, weirdest year we ever go through. I suppose we were due. But to miss the lessons and let this year go by without reflection is a waste of a good low tide. This is where wisdom is given. This is where secrets are revealed and purposes borne. These are the times that wise folks draw close to God and find things that have been submerged beneath the waters of our culture that are both good and bad.
As the tide rises and we are slowly freed, to suddenly STOP observing our surroundings would be the greatest tragedy. The Prophets speak this sentiment from their 2700-year perspective and we do well to absorb their wisdom:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19
Father, how magnificent is Your hope that trickles in when we see no way out! Thank You for the rescue that comes after reflection. Search us as we are stuck in our circumstances and reveal the things that are often hidden by our blessed lives. May we lean into the lessons You are revealing through our struggles, so that we can point others to the Source of our Hope, Jesus, in His name we pray. Amen.