Back in the dawn of time, when television images were still black and white, a strange comedy team tickled people’s funny bone. The called themselves the “Three Stooges.” But that was an exaggeration. They weren’t even that smart.
If you looked up “stupid” in the dictionary, Moe, Larry and Curly Joe might have their picture next to the definition. Moe had a Beatle’s haircut long before the Beatles; Larry opted for the Einstein “explosion in a mattress factory” coiffure and Curly Joe had no curls at all. He sported a crew cut.
One skit that sticks in my memory was about, “Niagara Falls.” In the story, Moe’s wife had left him for Larry. Moe followed him wanting revenge and caught up with him in Niagra Falls whereupon he beat him up. Supposedly years later he was telling the story to Curly Joe, the dumbest of the three (and the dumbest of those three is way down the food chain).
Curly Joe made the mistake of saying, “Niagra Falls” and Moe went into a kind of violent trance. He said, “Niiii-agra Falls. Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch. Then I caught him!” Everytime he heard “Niagra Falls,” he beat someone up.
Poor Curly kept forgetting and he said it several times. Each time he paid the price. Funny, huh?
Where Is Your Niagara Falls?
I think we’ve all had our “Niagara Falls” experiences. Some pastors hear the name of certain towns where they had been pastors and they want to say, “Niagra Falls!” and beat on someone. Some of you have had bosses like that.
All of us have had experiences like that. We hear the name of a place or a person and it feels like a gut-punch. Memories and emotions still lurk right under the surface, and it doesn’t take much to make them swim to the surface like a five-pound bass leaping out of the water after a dragonfly.
I had an experience like that. My wife knows where it was, but I’ll not tell you. All you who used to be members of the churches where I pastored are probably asking, “Was it us? Was it us?” Probably not. But who knows? (smile).
Niagara Falls experiences can define our life. Forgive the cliché but it’s so true: we get better or we get bitter. We preachers like to talk about how trials make you strong. Not always. I’ve seen people who let trials kill them spiritually.
I’ve seen these nasty experiences cause people to grow cold in their zeal for the Lord. After all, “If God loves me/answers prayer/can do anything, etc., why didn’t He change that thing?
Here’s my answer—I don’t know.
I do know one thing, though. I can’t let Niagara Falls ruin the rest of my life. I can’t let Niagara Falls cheat me out of accomplishing the mission that God put me on earth to do. I can’t let Niagara Falls make me lash out at those around me. I can’t let Niagara Falls steal my closeness with the One who loves me incredibly.
I don’t like trials but I’ve learned something about them. They either build me or break me. And it’s me who decides the result of trials in my life.
If I get mad at life, mad at God, mad at those around me, mad about injustice, mad about inequity or a thousand other things, I can sulk away the rest of my life. With B.J. Thomas I can sing, “Hey Won’t You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song … A real hurtin’ song about a love that’s gone wrong ‘Cause I don’t wanna cry all alone.”*
A Time for Everything
There is a time for crying, a time for hurting, maybe even a time for examining our doubts.
Then the bells rings, we shake the cobwebs out of our head, we lift a praise to the God above, even if it’s through clenched teeth at first. But, we praise Him and get back into the battle. God is good, even if every devil in hell screams the opposite.
God is working this for my good. There’s no way He’s giving up on me. He hasn’t forgotten me.If you haven’t been healed from Niagara Falls, think about what God said.
“We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Rom. 8:28, Amplified, Classic)
“… for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] 6 So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5, 6 Amplified Classic)
“… we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5, NLT)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1, NIV)
You know, as bad as it hurt, Niagra Falls can be a blessing. Make it so! (with the help of the Helper)
Niagara Falls Skit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYP1OBZfFK0
“People will do a bad (a truly noxious) job for a long time because it feels familiar. Legions of people will stick with a dying industry because it feels familiar.
The reason Kodak failed, it turns out, has nothing to do with grand corporate strategy (the people at the top saw it coming), and nothing to do with technology (the scientists and engineers got the early patents in digital cameras). Kodak failed because it was a chemical company and a bureaucracy, filled with people eager to do what they did yesterday.
Change is the unfamiliar.
Change creates incompetence.”
- Song: B. J. Thomas, Released: January 1975 Songwriter(s): Larry Butler, Chips Moman
Photo-Pixabay.com/Roselie; Flickr, creative commons; Insomnia Cured Here