Danger in the Hanging Gardens of New York


Beautiful Watkins Glen

If you have ever visited Watkins Glen State Park in New York State, you were likely astounded by the sheer beauty surrounding you. Everything, from the gorge itself, to the plant life, to the numerous waterfalls, to the plentiful pools, speaks of unsurpassed splendor. Geologists call the park a "hanging valley". I think it would be better called the "Hanging Gardens" of New York State.

The numerous pools, created by rock and sand tumbling through the fast moving waters, look so inviting. What better place could there be to refresh yourself and enjoy summer to the fullest! Warning signs forbid visitors from even contemplating such a thing, however. Hidden dangers have cost the lives of more than one person who chose to ignore the warning. The strong undertow can quickly turn your "safe haven" into a pool of death.

Ironically, a railroad trestle spanning the top of Watkins Glen until 1935, was washed out by an unforeseen flood. It would seem that the warnings are warranted! That this "idealistic" garden is far from being safe after all!

Nevertheless, on a hot summer's day, I can just imagine myself relaxing in one of those pools. Though the consequences could be lethal, they sure do look inviting!

But then, don't we routinely tend to relax in surroundings that seem "idealistic" but are really lethal?

As believers, we tend to take comfort in the fact that we attend church regularly, we get involved with church activities, and we receive the reassurance that we are doing well. But are we really? Are we really heading for heaven, or have we lost our true purpose? Has a strong undertow caught us off guard and driven us away from our real hope?

If we are heading heavenward, why do we tend to concentrate most of our attention on our puny, temporal existence? If we believe we are saved, why don't we talk more about our Saviour? More about Heaven itself? If we pretend to be Christians, why are we not consumed with spending time with our Lord? Why don't we put our energies into planning our soon arrival in heaven?

Is it possible we have lost our hope?

So many of us go through life's ups and downs, getting excited by the most mundane things, but becoming indifferent to talk about Spiritual things. Have we lost our excitement at the prospect of spending eternity with our Maker? Have we somehow wondered off the path?

Richard Wurmbrandt was persecuted in Romanian prisons for years because of his faith. When he was finally released, he found shelter in the Western World. His first remarks about North America were far from being flattering: "You don't have communism here, you have something far worse. You have materialism!"

Have we been lulled to sleep by the comforts of our material world? Is this possibly why divorce rates, even among Christians, are on the rise? Is this why so many lead defeated lives, even though Jesus has set us free?

Is Jesus still our focus? Is He still the only One who can excite us to the core? Is He the One we still long to spend time with? Has something come between us? Have we been towed away from our Loved One by the deadly undercurrents of our materialistic world? Is it any wonder that depression has invaded our ranks? Have we completely lost our focus?

"We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heavenů" (Col 1:4-5 NIV)

Our hope must not be stored up in the pleasures of this planet. These are nothing compared to what God has in store for us! Our hope must be "stored upů in heaven!" The apostle Paul urges us to: "Wake up , O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Eph 5:14 NIV)

The apostle John tries to shake us awake as well: "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God." (Rev 3:1-2 NIV)

Don't relax in an environment that is filled with dangers! Complacency is deadly! Our home is in heaven! Let's head that way!

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christů" (Phil 3:20 NIV)

P. S. Do you have a towel by any chance? And can you help me out of here? The water in these pools is freezing cold! Brrrr!

Rob Chaffart

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