Fjordland


During our recent anniversary trip to New Zealand, one of the things I found very interesting was the diversity of terrain. From beaches to mountains to rain forests to thermal fields, New Zealand has it all. There is also a wide diversity of weather conditions across the two islands, but perhaps the most intriguing region was what is known as Fiordland.

Fiordland is found on the southwestern tip of the southern island, and it is characterized by the the towering Southern New Zealand Alps, deep lakes, and ocean-flooded, steep valleys.

Our trip to this mystical part of New Zealand began early on Christmas Eve day. It was cloudy, and the closer we got, the mistier and foggier it became. It wasn't long before it was raining, and precipitation of some kind was with us for our entire visit. We were told that we were surrounded by beautiful mountains. We were even shown breath-taking pictures. But all we saw was a layer of cloud and fog.

However, the area was beautiful in ways that the fog couldn't hide. The fauna was stunningly green, and the water-carved canyons with their steep sides that climbed up into the towering Southern New Zealand Alps, were striking. And then there were the waterfalls. Thousands of them, falling hundreds of feet over sheer cliffs into the fiords below. It was absolutely beautiful.

I was astonished to learn that all but 4 of the hundreds of waterfalls were not real waterfalls at all, but simply-rain runoff! In fact, on our boat trip through the fiords, there were only 4 real waterfalls! In other words, if it wasn't raining, we would only have been able to see 4 waterfalls instead of the hundreds, and these 4, apparently, would be dried up to almost trickles after just one day of no rain! But in a region that receives more than 200 days of rain a year, with a total of more than 7 metres of rainfall annually in some areas, it makes sense that the waterfalls would primarily be rain runoff.

The area is also sparsely populated, and thus the area is home to a variety of wildlife, including many endangered species. The deeply penetrating Fiords have a layer of fresh water covering the saltwater below, and the dark tannins in the fresh water layer make it difficult for light to penetrate. As a result, many deep-sea species grow in the comparatively shallow depths of these water inlets.

Was I disappointed that I couldn't see the mountain peaks because of the fog? I suppose, if I am to be truly honest, I was a little. I love mountains, and I had really looked forward to seeing those towering, snow-covered peaks. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the beauty of the place was a much a result of the rainfall as it was a result of the mountains, and I would have missed much if the rain had gone away.

Life is often like those 200 days a year in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. We expect that our paths will take us to towering heights. Instead, we find ourselves stuck in the rain and the fog. People tell us that better days are ahead, but just like we couldn't see any of those gorgeous mountain peaks in Fiordland, the troubles of life cloud our view. But take courage! Just like there are sunny days in this wet part of New Zealand, there will be better days in front of us as well! We have to trust God to get us through!

And while we are going through these tough times in our lives, why not take a few moments to look around? Just like the rain made all of those waterfalls possible, could it be that the troubles we wish would go away are making it possible for many other beautiful things to happen?

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Rom 5:3-4 NIV)

The next time you are in the middle of an impossible situation, remember, God has already made the way out. But while you wait for your miracle, take a look around. Try to pick out the beauty in your situation, and allow God to mold and remake you through this experience. You won't be sorry!

Lyn Chaffart , Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org

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