The other day, my good friend told me that she’d watched a show about the Rogue Wave Phenomenon.

I’d never heard of the things, but wowza.

You don’t want to meet one in a dark alley, or anywhere else for that matter.

Here are several links to give you an idea about why a whole show was dedicated to rogue waves:

Discovery Channel

Another Discovery Channel


US News

So a ship sails peacefully on the blue, when out of this very same blue, a 70-to-115 foot tall wall of inviable power appears.

One can do nothing but wait for impact.

No escape.

No hiding.

No pleading.

No mercy.

The wave will sink you.

Until 1995, scientists doubted that rogue waves were anything but the inspired legends of captains and sailors who had spent too much time on the open sea.

But that year they changed their minds.

Off the coast of Norway, an oil rigg measured one of these fluid behemoths to be 76 feet high as it hit the structure.

And the legend became the documented phenomenon.

Now, not only was my friend taken aback by the awesome power of these rogue waves.

Not only did it cause her to rethink a tentatively scheduled cruise.

But she pointed out that life provides its own rogue waves.

You’re sailing along, and then you look up and have only a moment to realize that your whole life is about to be overcome.

And there’s nothing you can do.

You will be tossed into the sea.

In Scripture, the sea is a symbol, a metaphor, for chaos.

(Were I to have a natural personal totem, suffice it to say that it would be the sea)

The presence of God’s power shows itself when the sea is controlled and calmed.

There’s an image circulating about on Facebook (I got it on the Nebraskans for Peace page), and it looks like this:

Rogue waves, this confluence of power, this convergence of energy from unrelated directions, this concentration of destructive forces, threaten us all, and are threatening precisely because they are beyond our control or our perception…at least until the moment right before they stare down at us, and announce that we are about to be thrown overboard.

And, true to the metaphor, sometimes the power of the chaos isn’t believed by anybody.

But in point of fact, the chaos is there and, assuming that the wave doesn’t take us down, down, down, we need someone to rescue us, to pull us out of chaos.

Insofar as someone does just that, sending in the Coast Guard, the lifelines, plucking us out of the water and leaving the broken timber and sunken treasures behind, they’re calming the sea, and stewarding God’s presence, extending a hand to someone who is otherwise drowning.

That said, another way of looking at rogue waves is this story from Perth.

So here’s a guy with the best of intentions to do himself in, and a rogue wave comes in and saves him.

There’s an interesting thought: sometimes rogue waves might be the very thing that rescue us. Southern and Roman Catholic author Flannery O’Connor understood this idea: in fact, she built a literary career on it.  Sometimes it is precisely concentrated chaos that throws us onto shore.

And then yet a third take: perhaps there is something to be said about rogue blessings, a wall of tremendously overwhelming grace and undeserved forgiveness and unmediated love and unexpected reconciliation and awesome, joyful surprise.

Rogue waves.

On reflection, one hopes, I suppose, to be spared from, saved by, and blessed with them.

Though I confess that I prefer to think about the whole thing on the prairie while looking at amber waves of grain.