George A. Bowers Sr.: The headwaters of happiness
Several years ago, I had the privilege of joining a friend on some horse rides. On one warm summer day, he took me out through the woods at the foot of Great North Mountain to follow an old road that had long since grown over. As we made our way deeper into the hardwoods, we eventually came to a stream that turned out to be Stoney Creek.
We continued along the edge of the brook, traveling upstream until we arrived at a large spring with water gushing out of the ground. That particular year was droughty and my guide informed me that the flow was significantly reduced. Nevertheless, the volume of fresh clear water bubbling up from the soil impressed me greatly. The overhanging hemlocks that rimmed the spring provided the perfect banquet room for us to enjoy our packed lunches before heading back.
Downstream, Stoney joins with several other creeks to become a major tributary of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. As it meanders, it flows through Basye, Columbia Furnace, Lantz Mills and Edinburg, and drains a large portion of the county.
Along its winding way, trout feed in its swift riffles, ducks paddle on its surface, and children wade in its calm eddies. It supplies Lake Laura as well as both the golf greens and ski slopes of Bryce. In earlier years, it powered flour mills and provided irrigation for crops and gardens. The stream has also hosted many baptisms giving witness to the soul cleansing power not of its water, but of Jesus’ blood. Stoney Creek is a special gift in Shenandoah County and one of our many natural treasures.
Every day, thousands of motorists cross this gentle gem, most never considering its fruitful abundance. In addition, a vast majority of the fish, birds, and even humans that benefit from it have never been to its source to appreciate its origins. This does not, however, diminish their ability to enjoy its richness nor to be nourished by its plenty.
As I reflect on the experience of journeying to the headwaters of Stoney Creek, it causes me to consider less tangible realities. Where, for example, do our daily blessings originate? What is the source of joy and laughter? Where are the beginnings of pleasure and delight? How can we find the headwaters of peace and happiness?
James 1:17 provides a clear answer to these questions when it tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” This informs us that all of the blessings we enjoy in life don’t come from multiple sources, but ultimately just one, and that one is God himself. We may experience many pleasures without ever acknowledging their source, but if we follow them upstream, we will eventually discover an incredible, loving creator who wants to bless and benefit his creatures. In addition, we find that as we get closer to him, the richer our lives become, just as a creek grows purer as one nears its spring.
If you experience any blessings today, take the time to recognize their source. Make the spiritual trek upstream to discover the one who provides these favors, for the richest and deepest delights are not to be found downstream, but in the wonderful presence of the Father himself. If you haven’t already, start your trip today, and if you have, take some time just to rest there and enjoy the Giver as well as His many good gifts. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his devotional collection, “Blessings.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org