February 20, 2018

With God is the fountain of life. Psalm 36:9

February is usually a good time to visit Yosemite National Park.

Not only is the park less crowded, which means more solitude to explore its wonders and see more wildlife, but also to indulge in cold weather sports—snowboarding, tubing and shoeing; downhill and cross-country skiing; and sledding.

Another reason is an annual phenomenon that, if conditions arrange themselves favorably, only occurs at certain times from the middle to the end of this month. Horsetail Fall, also known as El Capitan Fall, since it spills over the east end of the iconic rock formation, puts on a fantastic show. Here are the essential ingredients: a clear sky, sunset at just the precise angle, and temps warm enough to melt the snowpack so water flows over the fall. You also have to be in a good viewing spot.

And what is it you’ll see? Firefall. A steam of water lit by the setting sun to look like a blazing yellow-orange-red river of fire cascading down El Capitan’s cliff face. The breathtaking spectacle lasts a mere ten minutes or so.

Observing this wonder has become so popular that people travel from all over the world during the approximately two-week window when all these natural elements can possibly come together. The park now limits vehicle access, and suggests visitors arrive early to pick up a pass on a first-come, first-served basis, or take a guided tour.

This year, however, the prognosis for catching the marvel is not good. That’s because the fall lacks the most basic ingredient—water. There’s just not enough snow to fuel the stream.

“Living water” is a phrase used often in Scripture to liken our physical need for fluid with our soul’s longing for purpose and meaning. Just as only liquid quenches thirst, God says He alone satisfies those inner yearnings. “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters…delight yourself in abundance,” Isaiah calls out. Jesus alluded to that verse at the Feast of Booths, a commemoration of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, proclaiming, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

God put everything in motion, arranged all the conditions perfectly, so we could know and partake of this living water. Finally, at just the right time, He sent His own Son (Romans 5:6, Galatians 4:4), the embodiment of this ever-running stream.

It’s there, waiting for us to drink as deeply and as often as we want, every day of the year, 24/7. We’re invited to partake, with no waiting, no shortage, no pass needed.

At the fountain, we’ll catch a glimpse of what the Israelites saw on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:7)—an awesome blaze of wonder, God Himself, whose glorious presence goes on into eternity.

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