Stay Out of the Rapids!

Sometimes beauty and danger come together.

River rapids are dangerous—especially when they are above a waterfall like Niagara.

Post danger signs like

“Keep Out” or “Danger Zone” or WARNING! or “No Water Entry,”  “Restricted Area – Boating Prohibited”  “Danger: Keep Out”

But people will still do it. Even at the peril of their lives.

Niagara Falls is a place of stunning beauty. Brother Steve and his wife recently visited Niagara Falls and brought back a few photos—and lessons—to share. Downstream from the Falls is Whirlpool Park. More beauty and more danger.

What is the lesson?

Aren’t we today surrounded by waters of Babylon? The river is filled with bends and turns and cross currents that threaten us continually. And dangerous whirlpools that could quickly take us down if we get too near.

The lesson for us is: STAY OUT of the RAPIDS!

The first lesson is a strike at our naturally too-confident, too-sure-of-ourselves nature. Of course we know what is best for us! But listen to the warning from Scripture:

1 Corinthians 10:12  12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

It is a different simile than the rapids, but the lesson is the same:

We COULD fall, even when we feel safe and sure-footed.

All Christ-like living is swimming upstream. Against the current.

Swimming against the current is enough. With all the help provided us, we CAN do it. The rapids are something else. STAY OUT of the rapids.

A good description of the rapids today? Look at Paul’s words in Romans 1:

Romans 1:28–32  28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

The Bible “tells it like it is.” Again and again. God knows our “human” nature and human instincts. He knows what we are made of. Paul prefaces this as applying to people who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Don’t we see that today?

The result is a powerful downward pull of a whirlpool. The one message to us is: Stay OUT of it. Proverbs 4 is very clear:

Proverbs 4:14–15  14Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. 15Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.

A common trait in the “rapids” we encounter is anger, and it is something we all have to battle. We can’t expect to get “good” or kind consideration from this world’s rapids where today there are almost no “controls” in place. What did Jesus say?

John 15:18–21  18If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Isn’t this a description of the rapids? Jesus says more:

20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.

When we allow ourselves to get into the rapids, we face the danger of picking up traits from the bad influence.

What did Paul say?

1 Corinthians 15:33 33Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Or the more familiar wording from Moffatt Bible:

Bad company is the ruin of good character.

There is another Proverb that fits here:

Proverbs 22:24–25  24Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, 25Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.

We have enough tendency to anger on our own, but when we are with people who are prone to anger, the danger increases.

It is our inborn nature to respond “in kind” to what is around us. When someone is angry with us, we tend to respond with anger from our side—which we are forbidden strictly to do. What do we read in Ecclesiastes about anger?

Ecclesiastes 7:9  9Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Fools? No compliment here! What do we read in Psalms about anger?

Psalm 37:8–9  8Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. 9For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth.

Paul said it too.

Ephesians 4:31  31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Notice the little word “all.” All those feelings that bump up in us so quickly, those traits of our nature are bundled together here—bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking—all have to do with what we say as a reaction, a response to OTHERS. We aren’t likely to show any of them on our own.

The current of the “river,” our lower nature, is enough, but add the pull of the world and it becomes the whirlpool that can take us down. Down, down. It is the pull of the world that is opposed to God, the world God tells us not to love.

There are plenty of reasons to STAY OUT of the rapids. If we have our affections in the world around us, that is where we will go—and go down. That is where the apostle John posted a BIG danger sign.:

1 John 2:15–17  15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Notice the promise at the end, a great promise for staying out of the danger zone.

17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Paul’s warning sign is just as speaking, and like John’s it also ends with a promise:

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 17Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18”I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

What we SEE is warning enough. What we DON’T SEE is where it will end. Often the rapids are just above a waterfall, and if we get into the rapids, where will it END? That is the reason for the warning. God knows what is ahead. HE see what we don’t see—until it is too late.

Isn’t it reason enough to STAY out of the rapids of this world? Many before us have gone down there, and we could too. Our best safety is in keeping as far from the rapids as possible. Many have even lost out trying to rescue someone else. The rapids were too much for them—and they could be for us too.

So the lesson: STAY OUT.

And remember the reason, that beautiful promise from the highest authority: to be sons and daughters of God Almighty!

By obeying this command, we have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain!

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