In the days when the American Northwest was being opened up, a young engineer went to build a bridge across a mountain chasm. After months of work they had almost finished the bridge, and one night he said to his men, 'Come after supper, and we will finish it in about an hour, and I will pay you a day's wages for that extra hour.'
`No!' they said, 'we have made other arrangements.'
`Come back,' he pleaded, 'and I will give you two days' wages.'
They said, 'No! but why do you want us back?'
He replied, 'If a great storm should come tonight in the mountain it would sweep the bridge away. We have not quite finished it.'
But they went their way, saying, 'It won't rain in months.' And that very night the rain-filled clouds emptied their floods upon the mountains, and they rushed down relentless in their power and swept the unfinished bridge away.
It is a parable of the soul that knows, and wishes, and yet presumes and delays and waits. How different was the response of the men of Nehemiah's day when they said, 'Let us rise and build.'—Sunday School Times
(Neh. 2. 18; 2 Cor. 6. 2)
Years ago in Pennsylvania, United States, a small town stood near a river. Just above the town a large dam was built across the river which held back a great volume of water. Then came extra heavy rains and the water rose to a height unknown before. Engineers were anxiously watching and asking: Will the dam hold?' Suddenly a crack was noticed in the dam. Immediately the engineers gave a warning. Word was passed round to all, 'Flee at once to the hills; the dam is breaking and a terrible flood will come.' But that dam had been there many years and no flood had been seen. Some doubted and said, 'What do these young fellows know about it?' And they refused to leave with those who left everything to fly for safety.
Then suddenly with a tremendous roar the dam burst and millions of gallons of water swept down the valley sending over three hundred to their death. When the catastrophe came there was no time to get away. Those who heeded the warning and left at once had time to reach safety, but those who did not obey the warning had no time to escape. Have you heard the voice of God warning you to flee from the danger that is coming? 'There's danger and death in delay.'—A. L. Goold
(Gen. 19. 17; Matt. 3. 7; Acts 13. 40, 41; Rev. 6. 15, 16)
The ant-lion is a little dark-looking creature that makes a hole in the sand, puts itself in the very centre and buries itself completely out of sight, except its horn which appears like a rusty needle sticking up in the sand. An observer of its tactics wrote:
`A little red ant came along seeking her food in her usual busy way. So she climbed upon the rim of the sandy cup and peeped over to investigate. Presently, suspecting danger, she turned to scramble off. Alas! it was too late; the sand rolled from under her feet, and down she went to the bottom, when in an instant that little black horn opened like a pair of shears, and "Clip" the poor ant had lost a leg. And now the poor thing struggles to climb up, but, one leg gone, she finds it hard work.
`The little monster does not move or show himself. He knows what he is about. The ant has got almost to the top and liberty when the sand slips, and down she goes. "Clip" go the shears, and another leg is gone. She struggles hard to rise, but she gets up but a little way before she slips again, and a third leg is off. She now gives up the struggle, and the lion devours her in a few minutes; and then with a flip of his tail throws the skin of the ant entirely out of the cup, and the trap is now set for another victim.'
The same process is gone through with flies and other insects. No ant-lion was in sight, but the destroyer was there. The dead were pushed out of sight. 'Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.'
(2 Cor. 2. 11; 1 Pet. 5. 8)
Spending a short holiday near the Needles, Isle of Wight, I was much interested in an account of how a certain nocturnal moth was caught by a London entomologist.
The gentleman made a special journey to Freshwater to collect some specimens of a species which is said to be found in no other part of the British Isles except the South Downs near the Needles.
Shortly after sunset he proceeded along the top of the cliff, armed with a pot of syrup and a brush, and whenever he came to a thistle, he just daubed it slightly with the syrup and passed on. About midnight he returned along the same path, but this time provided with a lantern, and as he stepped from thistle to thistle, his innocent victims were found clustering round the syrup, and fell, an easy prey, into the collector's hand.
What a solemn picture, I thought, of how Satan dupes his victims! He, too, stalks through the land, daubing the pleasures of sin with a delusive sweetness, and soon after his victims, intoxicated with the poisoned draught and hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, lose all consciousness of their terrible danger.—The Journey and its End
(2 Tim. 2. 26; Heb. 3. 13; 11. 25)
Sometimes the lions' mouths are shut;
Sometimes God bids us flight or fly;
Sometimes He feeds us by the brook;
Sometimes the flowing stream runs dry.
Sometimes the burning flames are quenched;
Sometimes with sevenfold heat they glow;
Sometimes His hand divides the waves:
Sometimes His billows overflow.
Sometimes He turns the sword aside;
Sometimes He lets the sharp blade smite;
Sometimes our foes are at our heels;
Sometimes He hides us from their sight.
We may not choose, nor would we dare,
The path in which our feet shall tread;
Enough that He that path hath made,
And He Himself shall walk ahead.
The dangers that His love allows
Are safer than our fears may know;
The peril that His care permits
Is our defense where'er we go.
(Acts 27. 9; 2 Cor. 1. 10; 11. 26; Heb. 11. 35)
General William Booth once said, 'I consider the greatest dangers of the twentieth century to be:
i. Religion without the Holy Ghost;
ii. Christianity without Christ;
iii. Forgiveness without regeneration;
iv. Morality without God;
v. Heaven without Hell.
(Col. 2. 8; 1 Tim. 6. 3-5; 2 Pet. 2. 1; 2 John 8. 9)