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The Real “Old Faithful”

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier


Yesterday I took my family to Yellowstone National Park and, while we were waiting for Old Faithful to blow, my 9 year old son asked me about the famous Geyser.

Jeremy asked, “Daddy what time is Old Faithful supposed to go?”

I said, “I heard it was supposed to blow at 6:29 pm.”

He responded, “What time is it now?”

Looking down at my watch I answered, “It’s 6:30.”

I will never forget his response, “Well daddy, maybe ‘Old Faithful’ isn’t so faithful anymore.”

This kid makes me smile…and think. This morning I looked up some of myths and facts about this wonderful geyser on Yellowstone’s website. Here they are…


• It erupts every hour on the hour
• It is so predictable, you can set your watch by its eruption
• It is the only geyser that can be predicted
• It is the most predictable geyser
• Its eruptions is not as high as it used to be
• Its eruption lasts less time that it used to
• Park rangers can control the eruption of Old Faithful
• No one can predict Old Faithful anymore


• Its eruption length and height, and time between eruptions varies from day to day and year to year
• As of March 2003, the eruption length ranges from 1.5 to 5 minutes; the average interval between eruptions is 94 minutes
• Old Faithful’s height ranges from 106 feet to more than 180 feet, averaging 130 feet
• Its average eruption length, height and interval will change again–often as a result of an earthquake
• 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water are expelled per eruption, depending on the length of eruption
• It’s on the more than 300 geysers in Yellowstone

Wow. Pretty cool.

As I think about it, Old Faithful isn’t “set your watch by it” faithful but it is faithful. And the reality that you can’t set your watch by it makes it even more exciting. “It will blow, but when?” becomes the question of the hour and a half (or so) between eruptions. Somewhere within what usually is a ten minute window of time Old Faithful will blow. And when it does everyone freaks, cheers, claps and then rushes to the gift store or cafeteria.

Okay, here’s another truth I thought about after my little boy’s diatribe on Old Faithful, God. He is the real Old Faithful. As Lamentations 3:23 reminds us, “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

The book of Lamentations was written after the fall of Jerusalem by Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. His heart was crushed to see his people dying in the streets of starvation from the seige Nebuchadnezzar had inflicted on this city. His eyes were red from crying over the disobedience of God’s people and the inevitable judgment that befell them. But in this verse he pushes up from the sackcloth and ashes to declare a enrapturing thought, that God’s faithfulness is great. Jeremiah knew that God would, after a period of punishment, come through for the Israelites and that Jerusalem would be restored.

Isn’t it true that our God is faithful? He will come through for us every single time in ways that we can’t anticipate. You can’t set your watch by his brand of faithfulness but you can set your calendar by it. In the ten minutes which comprise our lives (in light of eternity) we wait with bated breath, knowing that God’s faithfulness can and will erupt at anytime. When it does we freak, clap, cheer and go to the Christian bookstore to buy another worship CD.

God will come though again and again and again and again and again. Part of the mystery of serving God is not knowing the exact moment when his faithfulness will explode. Part of the majesty of serving God is knowing that it will.

As you live THE Cause make sure you are trusting in Him to come through to give you the courage, words and wisdom you need to tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and family members about the faithfulness of our great God. He demonstrated with a bang when he sent his Son to die for our sins and rise on our behalf.

Great is his faithfulness!

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