"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Prov 16:25 NIV)
I grew up in a small town where my family had lived for several generations. My great grandfather was a farmer and had farmed a large amount of land on both sides of a river. He built a bridge across the river and, appropriately, that part of the river was named Vaughn Bridge.
By the time I came to be, my family no longer farmed that area. Vaughn Bridge had become a popular swimming area for local residents. It was picturesque.
Above the bridge there was a large, wide, rocky shoal that opened into a wide, slow moving, sandy-bottomed area about the size of a football field.
The water was clean and clear. Large willows grew out over the banks on the upper side, and the lower side was a flat, sandy beach where little children could wade out into the river for quite a way without getting into deep water.
I was baptized in this river when I was ten years old. A couple of years later, a very significant event in my life would occur in the same spot.
One day, when the river was "up" after a rainstorm, my father took me, my brother, and a cousin to the river. That day, the water was swift and deeper than usual. My father hesitated, but after our insistence (begging), he allowed us to go in.
Gary, my cousin, and I were having great fun floating through the bridge in the swift current, then walking back through the bridge, and doing it all over again. My younger brother, Nathan, was paddling around above us in an inner tube.
The swift water going under the bridge was only about waist deep, so we were not concerned. Gary and I began to get a bit bolder. We allowed the current to take us further down the river. No problem. We could still turn around a go back.
We decided we should venture even further. I was not a great swimmer, but I wasn't worried as long as my feet could "touch bottom". Now, we were in the swift middle current of the river. Great fun!
When the water (quickly) began to get up to my upper chest, then my neck, then my chin, I decided it was time to turn around.
The current was too swift. I couldn't go back! In a few moments, I could no longer "touch bottom". I panicked.
Gary made it to the bank. I had a much more difficult time, barely making it back without drowning. But Nathan...
Unnoticed by us, Nathan had followed our "lead", and had paddled out into the middle of the river and floated through the bridge in that same swift current.
He panicked too, and was trying to climb out of the inner tube, in which case, he would have drowned. My father jumped in, made it to him, and got him back to the bank--about a mile downstream.
How much like life was that day at the river! We only care to notice that we can still "touch bottom". But the current we have gotten ourselves into is too strong. When we decide we are ready to get out, we find that we cannot!
My brother and I almost died that day. It seemed all right to me, but I wasn't paying attention to where the current was taking us. And my brother followed my lead. What seems like great fun at first, ended in near disaster later.
Be mindful of what you allow in your life. It may seem innocent enough at first, but think about where the "current" is taking you. Do you want to go there? Can you turn back when you want to?
Or are you ignoring all the danger signs, thinking there is nothing to be concerned about, and saying to yourself, just as I did that day, "But I can still touch bottom..."
G. Randall Vaughn