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Topic: Water (04/26/04)
TITLE: Along The Water's Edge
By David Ritchie
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I cannot imagine life without water. As a boy I spent so many carefree days on the seashore, wading in the clear cold water along the waters edge. I can still recall the feeling of the shingle between my toes as the water swirled around my feet. Boys would line up along the shore having gathered a pile of flat broken slates; they would play 'skimmers' - throwing the slate along the surface of water and counting how many times it bounced as it skimmed along the surface.
We bathed in it, fished in it, floated on it, and searched for crabs under the stones along the waters edge. In these days when food was home made, cans were not so plentiful but we searched until we found one and then we would light a fire and boil whelks, mussels and limpets. As the summer wore on the tin got rustier by the day yet no one got salmonella or any such illness as we ate half raw seafood in our home made café.
A walk along the waters edge produced so much fun and opportunities as we gathered treasures from the flotsam and jetsam. An oil drum provided weeks of fun as we tried to build a raft around it, plenty opportunities for the 'I've been framed' type programmes as we pulled it to the low tide mark awaiting the rising tide to carry us away. The only problem was that no one had cameras in those days to capture the chaotic scenes as the make shift rafts went to pieces or capsized. The ship painters 'punts' were a source of great fun as a half dozen boys would clamber aboard, unloosing the punt and paddling it through the harbour with the brushes used to scrub the boats in preparation for painting.
Not all memories are good as I can recall the heartache as in the storms boats would be lost and several men from such a small community would lose their lives. In the very harbour entrance - almost home, the local salmon cobble capsized with the loss of several lives. The neighbouring town also saw the loss of a lifeboat with all hands as it also capsized in the entrance to the harbour. Shipwrecks were common in those days but within a few days the local boys would be playing in the wrecks taking turns at being captain and distributing a whole range of orders at one time.
The list of activities around the waters edge is endless, fishing with a string tied to a bamboo pole at the point of the pier, then each summer hoards of people would gather round the waters edge as local Christians would be baptised publicly announcing their faith in Jesus Christ.
I can still remember the songs and testimonies and those happy scenes of children at the waters edge. There was always the visiting children who were not familiar with the ways of the water who would get their shoes and socks wet as the water splashed around them while their parents were singing their hearts out singing hymns like;
I'm not ashamed to own my lord, and Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.
It was not at the waters edge, but in my sixteenth year having witnessed life around me from a Christian and non-Christian viewpoint I also decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ. I found like the woman in the bible (John 4) that Jesus did provide 'living water' that satisfies the thirsty soul. This was a different kind of water; it was water springing up into eternal life, and it has really satisfied.
As a deep-sea fisherman in my early days of work I experienced the tremendous force of water, as our ship would be tossed to and fro like a pieced of flotsam on the chaotic waters. There I learned that this newfound relationship with Jesus could produce a calm within, while it was a storm outside. Although not a fisherman any longer, like many other people I have come to know that life is not all calm waters; there are many storms that threaten to shipwreck a life. However I have also learned that with the water of life within, through Christ, I can face any storm without.
The water of life? Revelation 22 v 17 (NIV) 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.