The power of water can be as serene and unnoticed as a lake or as wild and violent as the waterfall that pours out of that lake. It’s all right there. Power on tap.
As a kid living in southern California and heading to the beach on weekends, I knew the power of ocean waves firsthand. Those coastal waves propel surfers, but they also tumbled me over with sound and fury. When my oldest son was just a couple years old and we were visiting Hawaii, I looked away for a second and when I looked back, he was gone. The next 20 seconds were among the longest I’ve experienced. During them, I knew the power of the waves to take my son from me.
Waves have immense power. But what keeps them from flooding the earth is other waves. The bouncing of all these waves against each other dilutes and cancels out their power. There are just too many for them to do much damage to the shoreline as they waste their power on each other and end up lapping the beach.
But the singleness and simplicity of a tsunami wave is what gives it its combined power. Instead of many waves crashing chaotically against each other, there is a single wave that moves in a single direction. And the united force of that wave exerts its power on the land in ways no other waves can.
There are many applications to this, but I think now primarily of preaching.
Too many verses. Too many stories. Too many quotes. Too many illustrations. Too many points. Too many words. All of these are like too many waves on the sea. They create a chaos that dilutes their power and effectiveness.
But a sermon that arises from a single passage. That has a single point. That plants a single image. That tells a single story. That calls for a single action. This is a sermon that preaches with the power of a tsunami.
Keep it simple, stupid. And preach like a tsunami.