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Heed the Warning

August 25, 2011

Summer Falls - minuscule in comparison to its glory days

In its heyday, Summer Falls was a force to be reckoned with. The mist from the water pounding into the reservoir below could be felt acres away, and the coolness on a blazing hot day was like sipping ice cold water in the desert.

A hydroelectric station now sits adjacent to Summer Falls diverting most of the water away from its 92 foot drop, but when I was a child, a trip to the falls was one of my favorite excursions.

“You kids are gonna cause me an awful lot of work later on.”

The boys in the middle of the river stared curiously at my grandpa, and I did the same.

“What do you mean?” one of them hollered back.

“Well,” he yelled over the sound of the rapids, “you’re about 100 yards up from Summer Falls. If the current knocks you off your feet, you’re going over the falls. You’ll end up going through the canals, and by the time you reach the irrigation system on my farm, you’ll be bits and pieces. There’ll still be enough of you to clog up my sprinkler heads though, and I’ll spend a couple of days digging you out.”

The teens moved with sheepish haste out of the river.

I was familiar with obstructed sprinkler heads. Every now and then, a mouse, snake, or even a bird would be swept into the irrigation pipes. The strength of the flowing water would push them through the pipes until they were firmly lodged in the sprinkler head. The water wasn’t quite powerful enough to squirt it out of the tiny opening; so someone would have to take the head apart or if they were lucky, they could dig the critter out with a piece of baling wire. The whole process was disgusting.

“Would that really happen to those boys?” I was looking to my dad for confirmation.

“It easily could,” he said. “Someone would probably find their dead bodies before they made it into the canals though. That’s why there are so many warning signs.”

Warning signs were plentiful – both above and below the cascading water.

“Why are there signs below the water fall, Dad?”

“The water hits with tremendous force. If you were near it, it would suck you so deep into the water that you would drown before you came back up.”

The next summer, we learned why those signs were in place. Three teenagers, floating on inner tubes, ignored the signs and tried to paddle under the falls. We heard of their drowning on the radio. They had floated peacefully up to the edge of where the falls land; and then, just like my dad said, they were driven deep into the swirling mass of water. A week later their bodies still had not been found.

On Saturday we went to the farthest end of the lake – three miles away from the falls. I was getting ready to jump in to the lake, when an official looking boat glided up to the dock.

“Clear the dock; CLEAR the dock,” a man from the boat yelled.

I heard my brother gasp as he grabbed my hand and began dragging me towards the sand. I stumbled along behind him in my little red, white and blue swim suit.

“Don’t look!” he said. “Don’t look,” but I had to see.

“What are in the bags? What are in the black bags?” I asked him.

They had found the bodies.

When Paul was getting ready to leave the believers in Ephesus, he gave the Christians a warning. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” Acts 20:28-29

Paul was warning them against false teachers – watch, be careful. The church is precious, bought with God’s own precious blood. He wanted them to protect it with sound doctrine and teaching.

In verse 31 he reminds them one more time. “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”

All too well I know the pressure to pass over certain passages of Scripture – those portions that don’t agree with the world’s popular point of view. Maybe it is easier to talk about something else or to gloss over the literal meaning of a few verses. For awhile it seems to work, but people don’t need more of the world. They need a Savior, and eventually they realize that what you’re giving them isn’t any different than what they can find elsewhere. That’s when they realize that you have grown weak, and they can influence you more than you can influence them.

Great works for God have been lost this way. Moments before they sink, they realize the devastation of not heeding the warning.

Be strong in the Lord, my friends. Ephesians 6:10-20

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