“Gifts from the Sea,” Friend, Feb. 1992, 48
Water, water—it’s everywhere! We use it every day to do everyday things. We drink it, wash in it, cook with it, swim in it, grow things with it, travel across it, and use it as a source of fuel. As common as water is, however, it is one of the most amazing and rare materials in the universe.
Although no other planet we know of has any water on it, three-quarters of our earth’s surface is covered by the sea. This wonder of nature, the mighty sea, offers us many valuable gifts.
Perhaps the most precious gift of God from the sea is the sustaining of life itself. All living things need water to survive. Because the bodies of plants and animals are primarily composed of water, they need to continually take more in to make sure that they maintain approximately the same amount at all times. Living creatures that do not receive enough moisture soon die.
Without the sea, the rapidly changing temperature of the air on land would make our days unbearably hot and our nights freezing cold. But because the temperature of water changes more slowly than land temperatures, the air temperature around the earth remains fairly steady. The sea helps regulate the temperature by helping produce cooling breezes when the land’s hot, and warming airflows when the land’s cold.
The sea also provides us with a means of power. Rain and snowstorms that come from the sea produce streams and rivers. Under the right conditions, falling water from these streams and rivers can be channeled so that it will turn a wheel or a turbine to generate electricity. Turbines are often placed below dams or at the bottoms of waterfalls, and the resulting hydroelectric power is used to run mills and factories and to provide light in our homes.
While all kinds of dissolved minerals are in the sea, salt is by far the most abundant. The sea is salty, in part, because of all the rivers that feed into it. Most rivers start high in the mountains, and as they flow downward, they pick up and dissolve billions of tiny bits of minerals. Much of this material is salt, which is then carried over and beyond the riverbeds and deposited into the sea.
When water naturally evaporates from the sea, the salt is left behind. But salt can be extracted from the sea by boiling the brine (salt water) in a large container. The salt left behind after the water evaporates is cleaned and ground up, then used to make such things as paper, plastics, soap, and glass. And, of course, we use salt on our food to make it taste better, as a preservative, and so forth.
So the next time you take a drink of water, enjoy a breath of fresh air, see a waterwheel, wash your hands, or sprinkle salt on a tomato, stop and think about why it’s all possible—remember God’s gifts from the sea.