I had been reflecting on the first few verses of Psalm 23 prior to a recent trip to Helen Hunt Falls (not the actress; part of North Cheyenne Canon Park here in Colorado Springs), so the passage was on my mind as I observed the falls.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Ps 23:1-3a NIV).
The Lord leads us beside quiet waters. Okay. Quiet waters can be nice. Peaceful. Relaxing. Slow. Quiet waters makes me think of relaxing on an inflatable float in a pool or maybe floating down a lazy river on a big inner tube. These are enjoyable activities. We all need times of rest and relaxation. Time to rejuvenate.
But to be honest, quiet waters sound a little boring to me. What I really prefer is loud, fast-moving waters. I enjoy observing the awesome power of the water as it rushes over the rocks. I like listening to the roar of the water as it plunges toward to bottom of the falls.
As I sat listening to the sounds of the waterfall on this recent visit, I was reflecting on how the rushing water compares to the quiet waters mentioned in Psalm 23. Several observations came to mind.
Rushing waters are inviting. They promise adventure, fun, exhilaration. They beckon me to get in and brave the force of the water. They appear refreshing and invigorating. I find the power of waterfalls captivating to watch as from the safety of its banks.
Watching the force of the falls, I saw the fast-moving waters as symbolic of temptation. The sins that tempt us appear extremely inviting. They promise adventure, fun, and exhilaration. They call to us to enter all it has to offer. They may even offer us a challenge. How long can you enjoy this activity before you are swept away with the current?
That is the problem with the sin that beckons us. Like the rushing waterfall, we step into it, believing it will be fun, refreshing, and invigorating. We fool ourselves into thinking we can step back out of it onto the safety of the banks at any time. And sometimes, perhaps we can. But this is a dangerous gamble.
Inevitably, at some point, the force will prove too much for us to stand and we will be knocked down and injured. We will lose our footing on the slippery rocks, and fall into the powerful, unstoppable flow. The force will carry us over the falls and plunge us to the bottom, perhaps even to our death.
The park ranger is well aware of these dangers. That’s why they post signs like this all around the falls:
God is also aware of the dangers of sin. This is why He posts danger signs as well. The park ranger is not trying to prevent us from having fun while visiting the waterfall, and God is not trying to prevent us from having fun when He gives us boundaries and tells us ‘don’t do that.’ The danger signs are there for our own protection, regardless of how fun, exciting, adventurous, invigorating, or compelling the rushing waterfall may appear.
After watching the waterfall for awhile, we went back downstream and stopped at a small inlet where the water was … yep, you guessed it. It was quiet. We put our feet in the cold pool, and we enjoyed a nice picnic lunch beside the quiet waters, admiring the beauty of the trees and mountains that were surrounding us.
“He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”
P.S. I still enjoy watching and listening to waterfalls, but now they remind me of Psalm 23.