Making Waves

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Ancient mariners were famous for their stories of peril on the high seas.
They spoke of the multi-tentacled Kraken that splintered whole ships; a vortex called the Maelstrom that pulled vessels down a kind of oceanic drain; a precipitous drop-off where the flat earth came to its edge; and warlike mermaids and mermen not likely to end up in a Disney animated film.
In the 21st century we can safely say such accounts were just fanciful myths.
But one other enduring “tall tale” has proven to be all too real: the rogue wave. 
Rogue waves are defined as walls of water more than twice the size of other waves in the vicinity.  Sailors have been reporting such “monsters,” “freaks,” or killer waves for centuries.  Such stories were typically dismissed as nonsense.
But consider the wave that hit the Eagle Island Lighthouse along the Irish coast on March 11, 1861. The lighthouse sits a full 200 feet above the high-water mark.  At midday, for no apparent reason, an incredible wall of water suddenly materialized and slammed into the main tower, breaking the glass at the very top and flooding the interior.  That was a 20-story-tall monster. 
Despite such evidence, scientists stubbornly held to the view that seeing isn’t always believing.  The wave just couldn’t have been that high.  That’s because conventional wisdom declared it was physically impossible for a wave to exceed 30 feet.
All that changed in 1995, when oceanographers were finally in the right place at the right time to measure the so-called Draupner wave, a rogue wave at least 84 feet high that slammed into the Draupner oil platform in the North Sea.
Today it is widely accepted that monster-sized waves are not only real, but are probably rising somewhere on the planet at any given moment. 
They are frightening – not only because they are unpredictable, but because they have a demonstrated capacity to do significant damage.  It’s possible that many of the ships (both large and small) that have vanished without a trace over the centuries were lost to waves that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. 
How do they originate? 
Researchers have learned that most ocean waves move independently of one another.  But every now and then a “pack” of waves will form a coherent group.  In a process called modulation instability, all the waves in a group pour their energy into a single rogue.  With little or no warning, a towering mass appears.  Then it collapses and disappears as quickly as it formed.
Every now and then it can seem as if a “rogue wave” of a different sort suddenly smashes into our lives.
Lots of little frustrations – each of them independently manageable – come together at the same time.
A sick child.  A malfunctioning air conditioner.  A judgmental neighbor who keeps reporting you to the homeowners association for trivial violations.  An overdrawn bank account.  That moron who cut you off in traffic.  An emotionally charged argument with someone you love. 
That’s all it takes.  Without warning, it can feel as if you’re drowning.
There are no rogue wave verses in the Bible.  But we do have this word from King David who, in a moment of desperation, wrote: “Save me, O God, for the floodwaters have come up to my neck” (Psalm 69:1).
There is no wave so high, or ocean abyss so deep, that we can ever find ourselves beyond God’s reach. 
That’s our ultimate spiritual security.
Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb, it’s probably a good idea never to go cruising on a boat named Poseidon