Not long ago, a family decided to spend a hot summer afternoon floating down a river on inner tubes. A river guide gave them clear instructions to make their trip enjoyable and safe. In particular, he warned them about a stretch of river where a bridge produced a strong undercurrent. he instructed them to get out of the river at that point and carry their tubes to the next launching area. All went well, until one adult family member decided to ignore the river guide’s warning. The detour seemed like an unnecessary limitation. Besides, he had floated the river before, and he knew what he was doing.
It was a mistake. The violent undercurrent flipped his tube over and plunged him into the water. Luckily, his life jacket kept him afloat, and all he lost were some of his belongings. It could have been much more tragic. He quickly realized how much better off he would have been to avoid the danger zone all together.
Life, like an unpredictable river, is fraught with danger zones—some of them obvious, but many of them unseen. Are we sometimes content to follow the current of popular culture or popular opinion, wherever it might take us? Often the best course is to heed the advice of those who have foreseen the dangers, those who are wiser and better informed, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular.
The counsel to avoid these dangers may at first seem like an unnecessary and unwanted restriction. Sooner or later, however, we realize that such counsel does not restrict our freedom; it protects
it. Although we can choose to rationalize, reject, or ignore good counsel and divine commandment, the choices we make—though they may seem small and unimportant at the time—have lasting consequences.
To make it safely home, it is not enough to simply “go with the flow.” The safe course is rarely the path of least resistance; rather, it requires deliberate choices, willingness to learn, and humble recognition that we don’t know everything. Truly, these choices determine our safety, our happiness, and our destiny.
- from "Music and the Spoken Word", by Lloyd Newell, October 6, 2013