PRINCIPLE: “When admiring the falls, remember the fall.”
Barb and I were enjoying the hike – not because we were in shape (far from it!) but because we knew we’d get to see the beauty and awesomeness of the majestic waterfalls. And sure enough – they were awe-inspiring. We not only took pictures but stood quietly as we reflected on and rejoiced in our great Creator God who designed it all.
Then my eyes shifted to a site some distance before the falls, just off to the left, along the shoreline of the river. Downed tree limbs and shrubbery had fallen into the river creating a natural dam. But it was not a thing of beauty. Rather, the dam was serving as a trap for all kinds of garbage; it was an absolute eyesore. People had dumped everything imaginable into the river – and all the garbage was dammed up for all to see. It was a condemning sign of our human-created pollution. I was stunned and appalled.
Yet as I pondered the sight, I thought of another kind of pollution – the pollution caused by our sin. As I admired the falls, I remembered the fall. Certainly Eve never contemplated the impact of her one sin – yet it is the fountainhead of all the pollution piled up in the dams of our world. “When admiring the falls, remember the fall.” I suspect few who threw garbage into the river did it with the intent of piling up garbage; in fact, many of them, if they thought at all, probably thought that just one little thing would not hurt. They just didn’t know it that one piece of garbage here, one there, and one there eventually dam up to spoil the beauty and health of the river. “When admiring the falls, remember the fall.”
And isn’t that the way it is with us and our sin? Surely this one sin, we convince ourselves, won’t hurt. Who else will see it anyway? No one else will be affected by it. Yet put it together with all our other sins, and with the sins of all others, and what do you see? And consider what God sees: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13) God sees all our sin as it dams up his view of our lives. And He sees not only our sins but the sin of the whole world. One sin here, another there, and another there all combine to dam up the pollution our world and spoil the beauty and health of life. Just imagine how appalled God is when He sees the pile. In the midst of His beautiful world stands a humongous, ugly pile of garbage. “When admiring the falls, remember the fall.”
Yet we can praise God today that He built another dam to catch all our pollution and garbage. It, too, was made from a tree. He placed it on a hill called Mount Calvary. The dam was shaped like a cross. On the cross hung God’s Son, Jesus, who, while dying, offered forgiveness for sinners when He said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” As Peter later wrote (1 Pt. 2:24), “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” As with the dam in the river, the cross stops the garbage and the pollution – it stops up the sins. The pollution ends with Jesus. “When admiring the falls, remember the fall.” As George Bernard wrote in that great Hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”, “In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”
“When admiring the falls, remember the fall.” It will point you to Jesus and lead you to rejoice in our great Creator God who designed it all.