The sky was cloudless and blue, the sea turquoise and as quiet as a lake. How marvelous to see these islands in the sea, the Florida Keys. “Oh, but you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see what is under the surface.” “Thanks a lot, but I’m very satisfied with what I see. Anyway, I’m afraid I can’t learn to breathe properly under water, and that mask affair might be all right but I can’t trust it.”
A long discussion took place as to the trustworthiness of an air-producing machine. Our good friend kept repeating, “All you have to do is to put on the mask, jump in, swim under a bit, breathe naturally, and look.” We examined the mask and listened to the explanations of how thoroughly the whole combination could be trusted—the mask, the oxygen, the tubes leading to the source of supply. Still we hesitated. Time was going by, and our precious opportunity to see what was being described to us was not unlimited.
Suddenly we decided to take the plunge. We accepted the fact that the source of the oxygen was a trustworthy machine. We had come to realize that the purpose of the mask was to open up wonders we could never otherwise see. The next step was to stop wasting time and to get over the side of the boat, into the water, with the mask on, and to begin to swim and look.
One moment before all we had seen was blue, undisturbed surface water, as far as the eye could see. Now a whole new world opened up, as different from the world above the water as anything anyone could imagine. Suddenly it was impossible to think of anything but the awesome marvel of purple fan-like plants gently waving as if with breeze, light lavender fans with brown markings, pale beige lace leaves on another plant, and frosty mauve-colored “pine trees” that looked like some artist’s design of a purple pine forest. Coral that looked like huge antelope antlers or like bare-branched trees, and fish deftly swimming around the coral with all the grace of birds swooping through branches at twilight. Groups of fish that looked like families out for a time of exploring as they darted and then moved slowly between plants and rocks and coral. Ledges and sudden caverns, the “grand canyon” look of certain areas. Amazing fish of all sizes and shapes and colors, from red and orange to bright yellow, green, blue, grey, and purple.
It all had been going on before we suddenly saw it; our observation, our discovery, our understanding did not make it materialize. We found out the truth of what exists under the surface of the Atlantic Ocean at that place, because we stopped arguing about the reliability of the masks and air supply and trusted them. Had we had to invent our own masks and a way of supplying air, our discovery of the underwater marvels would have never taken place at all, since our visit in that area of the world was to be only three days long.
Laborer or president, queen or peasant-anyone can own the mask and snorkel supplied to us by God. And that equipment provides comfort and hope.
A lifetime is not long enough to make the discoveries that would open up the truth of the universe, the truth about the past, present, and future. As I later reflected upon the experience, I thought of the fantastic marvels opened up to us when we look through God’s “mask” and breathe the “air” he supplies for us. The Bible, God’s Word, is our mask. Through it we are to see the marvel of his creation in the past. “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORDour maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:3–7). “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is the great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.… The glory of the LORD shall endure forever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.… I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD” (Ps. 104:24, 25, 31, 33, 34).
When we look through the Word of God, the Bible, using it as our trustworthy “mask and snorkel,” we also find what we need for the present day-by-day life. As we read in the newspapers of increasingly terrible earthquakes, floods, and disasters, as we hear from friends in troubled parts of the world, we are comforted that our mask is not too expensive to give to others, that they need not have membership in a club to use it. As we read and see what God has provided for the immediate moment, we thank him that it is there for laboring man and president, for queen and peasant, for anyone who will look.
The one who prepared this means of seeing what could otherwise not be seen is the Creator of all things, God himself. So comfort can be found when “fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.… Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:5, 22). And in the same psalm: “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice” (vv. 16, 17).
When we read in Colossians that we are to pray with continuity for each other as well as ourselves, we know that the One to whom we pray is the Creator, described also in Colossians 1:16 and 17: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, … and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” We can trust his Word, “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.… So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:9, 11).
The Creator of the universe has given us a “mask” through which to look with some measure of understanding at the wonders of the past, present, and future, knowing that one day we will find out that which eyes have not yet seen, nor ears heard, nor the heart of man imagined.
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