What is it about human nature that makes us want to push the boundaries to the limit? My brother and his family joined my family for a little outing to Point Pelee, Ontario. Ignoring stormy weather forecasts and the cloudy sky above, we set off to explore what is now a national park on the southern-most point of mainland Canada. This little spit of land jutting out into Lake Erie actually has a fascinating history. We walked through an old centennial-type homestead complete with cooking utensils, beds, and dressed up dummies. Interesting historical tidbits displayed on various signs slowed the adults down, while the children whizzed by on to the next thing. We climbed lookout towers, and walked boardwalks through the wetlands. We even discovered history in the garbage, complete with little signs describing for what the rusting tools or tubs would have been used.
By now, the sun was shining brightly and our day was looking more inviting. To get to the tip of Point Pelee, we hopped on a long yellow tram that meandered slowly down the tree-shaded roadway. For the final 10 minutes, we walked on nicely graveled paths listening to the wind and waves on the one side behind the trees, and gazing at the wide expanse of Lake Erie on the other.
One warning was repeated on sign after sign as we neared the point. “There are dangerous currents in the water around the point. Do not wade in the water.” Several stories of people who had drowned in the undertow were displayed in black and white for all to see.
As we walked by one more warning, a sign with a lifesaver ring hanging underneath, the bush started to thin out around us. Ahead there was only a narrow strip of rock and sand jutting out into the water. Waves came against the shore on both sides of us. Just beyond the final grains of dry sand, the water crashed against itself in joyful tumult. The waves churned and scrambled like chickens that have just spotted an intruder in the coop.
I gazed around me enjoying the beauty of it all. I watched the other tourists around me walk down on to the sand as far as they could go. Some took off their shoes and stood on the wet sand allowing the cold water to splash over their feet. I heard my husband call out to my youngest son who had already removed his socks and shoes. “Jesse, run out there to the tip and get your feet wet. Then you can say you have been further south in Canada than your mommy or your daddy!” Off he ran as quickly as his feet could carry him.
“Be careful, Jesse!” Guess who said that! I eyed my son and the waves carefully until I saw him run back. All I needed was a freak wave to carry my boy away into that unfriendly water.
Of course, mom was being a little over-protective as usual. Nevertheless, it illustrates the point about human nature. We are warned about the dangers of something and often our natural reaction is to try to be as close as we can to the danger without actually being carried away. What some consider “close enough”, others may laugh at as they push the limits even more.
The real danger comes when we treat God’s laws and principles in the same daring way. We tend to push the limits, seeing how close to the edge we can go without being sucked in. God’s Word is full of instruction, teachings, and warnings. Do we read these signs carefully and obey them fully, knowing they are there for our own good?
Psalms holds some good advice for us. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding …” (Ps. 32:8-9a)
The lesson is clear: Do not be a mule! Read the signs! And obey!