Volume 16 Issue 10

 

The world’s largest waterfall is gone.

The Parana River runs between Paraguay and Brazil and reaches a point where it becomes five miles wide. The water at this point once plunged off the mountain and became a thunderous waterfall, greater than any waterfall on earth. The Sete Quedas was greater than Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls, or the Iguaçu falls; yet most people have never heard of it. There was no airstrip nearby, no roads to give people access this spectacular place, just a small, relatively unknown trail. A secret waterfall in the mountains of Paraguay, it was arguably the most beautiful place on earth. Today it no longer exists.

A huge dam was built at this place that destroyed the waterfall. The Itaipu Dam is 4.8 miles wide. Fifteen times more concrete was poured here than was used in the “chunnel” between Great Britain and France. The steel used “would have built 380 Eiffel Towers.”

I share this story with you from the book by James Martin, The Meaning of the Twenty First Century. (Riverhead Books 2006) I want to quote Mr. Martin about the consequences of this destruction of one of Nature’s greatest wonders.

“The river water was raised over 600 feet and created a vast flooded area 125 miles upstream. Almost 85% of the forest along the Paraguayan portion of the Parana River was destroyed. Vast numbers of species, including rare orchids, became extinct. Paraguay has only 3 million people and little industry; it uses less than 2% of the electricity generated… The Itaipu Dam need not have been built.”

This, of course is another example of men’s misuse of the world’s natural resources or “Nature’s Trust Fund,” as Martin puts it. I saw such a thing in my own life, on a smaller scale, of course. A tiny beautiful stream in Indiana was straightened out by local farmers in order to increase useable acreage. Nameless Creek meandered across several fields and valleys near my childhood home. Huge sycamores and walnut trees lined her banks. The creek was extremely crooked at this part of its journey to the Blue River, and the bends and small falls created swimming holes for exploring young boys. The swirls slowed to form “deep dimpled pools” where bass and specks could be caught with little effort. After it was straightened, it became a ditch-like thing. The trees were toppled, the twists were straightened, and the fishing holes were lost. The farmers could now plow and plant right up to the banks. I stopped going there after a while, and today, as an adult, I long to see it as it once was. But it is so altered I cannot make my grandson understand why it once excited the heart of a young man to play along its banks all day long.

Humanity often destroys good things and even great things for expediency. The greed and lust for success, profit, acceptance, or other such things convinces many to forgo the long term for the short term. To the foolish, life is viewed as only the present moment. To them, the moment is perceived as the whole; but of course this is not true. Today’s actions and decisions all have future consequences. Things wasted today may never return. There is not an unlimited supply. Anything may be wasted: friends, relationships, youth, fortunes, opportunities, time; all may be thrown away, misused, abused, ignored, and lost forever.

What we see as expendable at the moment may in fact be the fundamental element needed for the future. The Apostle’s doctrine, I believe, is future-proof; it works in any culture and in any era. What Christ gave his Apostles to preach and teach were essential things. Real things. Life empowering things. The real deal. The Truth, through Jesus, meets the needs of humanity in ways we may not easily understand. But if not defended, if not preached, if not practiced, it will be lost.

The carnal throw away the holy because it gets in the way of fleshly ambition. Like the profiteers who eliminated the Sete Quedas or the farmers who destroyed a beautiful section of Nameless Creek, today some church folk await the moment when the “big earth movers” can flood the valley and sweep away that which they think will prevent the (falsely perceived) “progressiveness” of their own ideas. They are willing to lose all things Apostolic for the intoxicating approval of men.

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