Recently, my fiancé and I visited a popular tourist hot spot called The Falls in Joplin, Missouri. A familiar place I frequented years ago when I attended college at Missouri Southern.
The beauty of this Ozark’s gem has remained, along with the energy of the flowing water, coupled with families snapping photos, fishermen enjoying the possibility of a big catch, and canoers and rafters anticipating a fun summer’s day adventure in the welcoming cool water the river provides.
While Justin and I were shooting pictures with our beloved Cockapoo, Atlas, I happened to see a young girl wade into the water near the second waterfall, closest to the spot we were snapping photos. Thinking little of it, we continued with our family photo shoot and enjoyment of the day.
A few minutes later, I looked up and saw the girl had walked several feet further into the raging water just a short distance from the large waterfall pouring gallons of water to the waiting river below. I then saw her slip on what I assume was a rock underneath the raging water in which she stood.
Growing more nervous with each step she took, Justin and I began to wonder where her parents, friends or anyone was, that would urge her to turn around.
At one point, Justin said: “I really don’t want to witness a tragedy on Father’s Day”. Yet, like a train wreck, our eyes were glued to the scene. Anxiously anticipating the worst, while desperately hoping she would gain her senses and turn back toward safety.
The girl did not turn back.
Rather, she slipped and slid her way to the middle of the waterfall, cast a strange hand signal to someone far below and dove into the flowing water toward the waiting pool several yards straight down. My breath caught in my throat. I waited for what would happen next.
Seconds later (that felt like an eternity), a dark head surfaced from the water. I loudly breathed a sigh of relief that she did not hit her head on the jutted boulders at the base of the waterfall and color the surrounding water red with the flowing of her own blood.
Justin and I looked at each other wide-eyed and full of disbelief. Even the biggest daredevil I know, sitting right next to me, was shocked at the scene we had just witnessed.
As daring and adventurous as this feat was, I would certainly not recommend it to…anyone. The falls were not so high, but the view of jagged rocks below scared the you-know-what out of me, thinking of what could possibly happen should this girl hit any of those pointed precipices at the slightest wrong angle.
How many times have I metaphorically waded into a treacherous flowing river, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead? Yet, I kept going, despite the feeling of my conscious, the Holy Spirit, emphatically whispering to turn back toward safety.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”Colossians 1:13-14
With warning signs in plain sight to steer clear of the waterfall, I mindlessly wondered to the perilous middle of a swiftly raging river. Slipping on sin and disobedience, finding myself at a point of no return.
Standing at the precipice of choice; either turn back, or senselessly fall forward with the flow. I guess this would be the point I would desperately start singing Carrie Underwood’s classic hit, ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:7:24-25
This situation at the local Falls could have turned out much differently.
We could have been witness to a brutally tragic end for this young girl. Someone’s beloved daughter, precious granddaughter, best friend, or treasured girlfriend. I am so thankful that was not the result of her defiant, albeit courageous bout of adventure on this Father’s Day, where so many fathers watched in horror at the scene before their very eyes.
I have metaphorically stood at the edge where that girl literally and physically stood on this day. Having gone too far outside the safety of my comfort zone to turn back. Thankfully, my Savior does not judge my plights of passion which have not always led to the safest of destinations.
“But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.”Judges 10:15
Jesus is a loving, forgiving, protective, and zealous Lord. He wants to rescue His own from the pitfalls of destruction that surround us at each turn.
He wants to gently guide us from the jagged rocks which threaten to incapacitate with one single blow. He begs us not to mindlessly meander down the road of pain that surely awaits.
Yet, when we inevitably make the choice, leading to the middle of a situation we have no idea how to escape, He faithfully meets us there.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
At the edge of the waterfall, the rushing of raging waters, the pointed tips of jagged rocks all around, only Jesus can calm the storm, stop the flow of the raging river, and cushion the pointed edge of paralyzing pain. He is a constant safety, deliverer, and thankful sigh of relief we feel when looking back on how different a situation could have been.
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”Nahum 1:7
Please do not walk directly into danger. Yet, if you find yourself at the edge of a steep fall (as we all do at times), there is always a ready rescuer waiting to respond to your desperate pleas for help.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9