Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Like Drinking From a Fire Hydrant (by Billy Coffey)

My family and I are gathered on an outcropping of rocks high in the mountains, wondering at the stars. An unusually warm winter’s night has given us the luxury of this little excursion, and we’ve been rewarded with the sort of natural scene that sucks in your breath and makes you exhale in a long, slow whistle.

Planets dance above our heads, stars glimmer, and each of us take turns wishing upon the occasional meteorite. Orion stands guard at his post near the horizon, his belt cinched and shining. The Big Dipper looks as if it’s pouring the Milky Way upon our heads. The heavens are arrayed in a perfect sort of chaos, as if God has sneezed a miracle.

My son gazes up and wonders of rocket ships and aliens. My daughter? Angels and celestial playgrounds. My wife is wondering why we don’t come up here more often, because we should.

And me? I’m thinking about a dog I met last summer.

Late July. No rain for weeks. The air was so hot and humid that it made you walk with your back hunched.

Standing at the bottom of a hill in town, minding my own business, there came a sudden and steady stream of water toward me. Then more. And more. Surrounding my feet, inching up my shoes to almost the ankle.

A walk up the hill confirmed the source of this minor miracle—four firemen had cracked a hydrant. “Testing things out,” one told me.

As I stood there and kept them company, a neighborhood dog ambles up so I could scratch its head. Tail wagging and tongue drooping, he sniffed and snorted and paced, as if confused by the dichotomy of an abundance of water and the lack of means to acquire it. The firemen, lost in the duties, paid little attention to the dog. I, however, did.

I knew what the dog was going to do.

More sniffing and wagging and pacing. Then, in a desperate attempt to satisfy his thirst, the dog stuck his tongue into the gushing water.

Why he didn’t simply head to the bottom of the hill and drink there, I don’t know. Some dogs just aren’t that smart. Much like people. I do know, however, that he got more than a mere sip. Water gushed into his mouth and over his face with such force and weight that it nearly drowned him. Good thing there were firemen close by.

That’s what I’m thinking as I look up at these stars.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” said David. Funny word, that “glory.” Translated from the Hebrew, it comes closer to “weight.” The heavens declare the weight of God.

Now, in this remote place with the heavens above me, I am much like that dog. Longing and thirsty and maybe not so smart. And drowning. Not in the weight of water, but in the weight of God.

Never let it be said that God hides from us. He is as near as a glance out the window, a walk in the park, or a rock to sit on. He pours Himself out in sunsets and rainstorms, in the blossoming of a flower or the falling snow.

As I sit on that rock with my family, staring until my neck aches and my back knots, I am reintroduced to the God I knew before I knew God. My childhood God. The One I spent time with before I knew what the words colored red in my Bible said and meant.

I am fortunate enough to sit in church every Sunday and listen to someone expound upon those words. Fortunate, too, that I can sit with my Bible and have those words speak to me.

But I’ve never lost sight of that other sermon, the one I am a witness to every day. It’s a silent one, ever present, given to believer and doubter alike. One written and composed in the beauty that surrounds us. The silent sermon of God’s glory.

We drink from God’s fire hydrant every day, drowned in the inescapable weight of His power, His creativity, and His love.

If you don't already know Billy Coffey, then you should head over to his website, What I Learned Today and pay him a visit. Thanks Billy for taking time out of your extremely busy schedule of family, writing gigs, blogging, editing a book, being a Redneck and watching the World Series to do a guest post. In appreciation, I am sending all of my mojo to the Yankees.


Heather Sunseri said...

I love this! This is one of my favorites, Billy!

Nice to meet you , Annie.

~*Michelle*~ said...

So happy that God led me here......Billy is a great vessel ;)

I love how I felt like I was right under that massive glory of God myself....or even experience the gushing of the water. Billy, your gift of writing brings His word to life!

Great post! :)

katdish said...

Hey...that guy's a pretty good writer. I'll have to check out his blog. Snort!

Loved this, Annie. (and Billy)

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Love this Billy!

Being in creation is how I fell back in love with God after being angry, hurt and disillusioned with him for a time. Still don't understand many things, but I see an amazing creator whenever I spend time outdoors and I feel the love!

Sarah Salter said...

This post was amazing and it reminded me of a scripture...

Eph 3:17-19 "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Candace Jean July 16 said...

"Never let it be said that God hides from us." These are beautiful words, Billy.

Ryan Tate said...

That is great Billy. Thanks. What stuck out me was the line, "Why he didn’t simply head to the bottom of the hill and drink there, I don’t know."

Do you feel sometimes that you can be the dog that travels downstream to lap up the water where it is easier to drink. The place where you can take what you want without being overwhelmed by the shear weight of the water. Like with God, you only partake small amounts of Him that you feel you need. You can take what you want down there and leave the rest to flow on by. You can drink without getting wet. It is comfortable and easier to drink at the bottom of the hill. I feel that way sometimes.

I should however be at the source, experiencing the full glory of God even though I can't handle it all or consume it all. We should get soaking wet drinking from the glory of God.

Helen said...

Annie, until I read the very last, I wondered how you scored a guest post from Billy. You held your Yankee mojo for ransom! Dang Girl! I wish I was that smart!

So..drinking in the full weight of His glory is a good thing, right?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Billy!

Jeanne Damoff said...

Lovely! The second paragraph is a perfect piece of descriptive writing. Such a delight to read. Thanks for this.

Beth E. said...

Hi, Annie...just hopped over to read Billy's post. As Heather said, "Nice to meet you!"

Billy, as hard as it is for me to believe, your writing gets better and better with every post. How is that possible? EVERY post I read, I think is the best. This one brought tears to my eyes.


Caroline said...

Wonderful post! I really love all you said. You truly bless us! Thank you.

Denise said...

Very awesome, really enjoyed this Billy.