In the summer of 1969 the waters of the American Falls of Niagara were turned off. After a three-year campaign and numerous complaints, the US Army Corps of Engineers built a 600-foot “cofferdam” to divert water from the American Falls to the Horseshoe Falls. This dam was built from Goat Island (which separates the American and Horseshoe Falls) to the mainland. The dam consisted of 1,264 truckloads (27,800 tons) of rock and earth.
A Slope of Discoveries
What was the reason for cutting off the waters of the American Falls? Well, on several occasions (in January 1931, July 1954 and December 1959) 130,000 cubic feet of limestone and shale had fallen from the ledge of the falls. This created a “talus slope” (a big pig of rocks at the base of the cliff). The pile was so large that it reached two thirds of the way up the falls. In the view of many, this talus slope marred the appearance of the falls. They demanded that the waters be cut off and the huge pile of rocks be removed from the cliff’s base. So in June 1969 the waters were cut off.
Initially, the dry falls drew lots of attention – more than the Horseshoe Falls. Spectators were allowed onto the dry riverbed above and the talus slope below. On the talus slope they discovered thousands of coins which people had tossed into the river. But they made some grisly discoveries as well. The first was the carcass of a deer. Then the bodies of a man and a woman.
Following this, after only a couple of weeks, the shale which underlay the top level of limestone, began to crumble from drying out. Then, as the shale crumbled, cracks began to appear in the overlaying limestone. This required engineers to pipe water into the shale to prevent any further collapses of the top ledge.
An Ugly Revealing
Another problem was the huge pile of rocks at the base of the falls. Many of the boulders were far too massive to move. Plus there were concerns that the removal of the talus slope might make the base of the falls vulnerable to scouring. If this happened, the entire cliff might fall. Therefore, the plan to remove the “unsightly” pile of rocks was abandoned. The engineers contented themselves with shoring up the top limestone layer to prevent further cracking and erosion.
The project to study the dry surface of the falls and to shore it up against further erosion dragged into November. By that time, the novelty of the dry falls had long lost its appeal. People realized that, without its water, the falls were nothing but an ugly gray cliff. Without its water, it had become an eyesore. The 20,000 cubic feet of water that tumbled over the American Falls every second was the only thing that made it special and beautiful. Even the pile of rocks at its base was appreciated. For it created multiple cascades for the water to tumble over.
As I read this story it reminded me of how ugly and crumbling our lives can become when we cut God out of our lives. Sometimes we do this out of rebellion – to throw off God’s yoke. Or, it’s simply from a desire to “be our own person” and work things out by ourselves. Sometimes we cut God out because we place education and professionalism above spirituality and faith. But whether we cut off God consciously or unconsciously, the effect will be the same. We lose our significance, effectiveness, and appeal. Just as the American Falls became ugly, drab, and like any other cliff when its waters were cut off, we become nothing without God.
I recall that, immediately after seminary and during my earlier years as an Army chaplain, I was so enamored with being professional. I sought to fine-tune my skills as a counselor, secure certifications, and school myself on all the resources available within the military and civilian worlds. Unknowingly, I was depending more on myself and less on God.
But how much good and lasting effect did I accomplish in peoples’ lives? Pain and conflict in my own heart sabotaged much of my work. Looking back, I wonder to myself, “Did I do any good in those days?” I was far more successful in helping people when I simply sought to lead them to the true Healer and Savior of humanity, Jesus Christ.
So, in my latter time as a chaplain, I unlearned dependence on myself. I began to trust more on God to do the miraculous in peoples’ lives – and found much more success as a result. But learning to trust God is a lifelong pursuit. I haven’t mastered it yet. But I have discovered it’s far better to have the river of God’s Spirit flowing through my life than to struggle along in the dryness of professionalism. Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Dear Father in heaven, please bring me to my senses. The work You’ve called me to do is spiritual, not carnal. It requires the miraculous. Only You, O God, can soften hardened hearts, open blind eyes, and raise sinners from death in sins to newness of life in Christ. Only You can mend peoples’ lives. Please make me an instrument in Your hand, O God, to bring salvation, healing, and peace to others. Amen.
-Below (Information from)
(Information from: http://www.niagarafrontier.com/dewater.html)