A few summers ago, we took our family vacation to the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls, better known as Horseshoe Falls. Before Keri and I had kids, we visited the US side. But having visited both, we can testify to the fact that the Canadian side was much more breathtaking. And, as with any vacation, pictures just don’t do it justice. The Falls remain a popular tourist attraction, and the day we went was no exception. Seemingly millions of people (likely an exaggeration) parked and gathered at the lookout points to see the magnificent views. Since we had to park so far away, we walked for a long time along the river that eventually spills over the crest and forms the Falls.
Along the way, we throttled our 3 young kids in the right direction and away from danger. On the left, traffic, on the right, the Niagara river. It was a harrowing adventure as we navigated our way to the lookout point. At one point on our journey, I looked over to see a large sign on the river that read “Point of No Return”. Reading on, the summary of the sign was that if you found yourself swimming or fishing in the river, you had better turn yourself around right now! If you allowed yourself to drift ever so slightly past that point, the current would prove too strong for you to turn around and you could wave goodbye as you plummeted over the Falls.
I couldn’t help but notice that at the placement of the sign, the river was very calm. Almost glasslike. No commotion or rapids or visual evidence of moving water. But, as the sign pointed out, something very important was happening, and you’d better pay attention.
Have you ever put your thumb on the end of a hose? It makes the water speed up and shoot harder and farther, right? That’s because in physics, the only way to get the same amount of water through a smaller opening is acceleration. Take a look at an aerial map of the Niagara River. The water starts on its path from Lake Erie and flows north to Lake Ontario. You can see how upstream, the river is very wide, then narrows as it flows over the Falls and curves around to its eventual outlet into Lake Ontario.
Turns out, just a few miles upstream, the current is roughly 5 miles per hour, barely imperceptible. Objects such as fallen leaves drift lazily as if stirred by a gentle breeze. Slowly, but surely, the mouth of the river narrows and in the moments before the Falls, the water accelerates its pace to about 25 miles per hour, the equivalent of 32 feet per second, hitting the base of the Falls with 280 tons of force. For reference, water flowing at 25 mph is the equivalent of wind blowing at 790 mph!
Ever been there? No, I’m not asking about Horseshoe Falls. I’m asking if you’ve ever been to the point of no return. You know, that point where you’ve gone too far and it’s unlikely you can ever turn back. Perhaps it’s a relationship that has managed to deteriorate to the point of disrepair. Perhaps it’s an addiction. Perhaps it’s a decision you’ve made that conjures up nothing but regret. Maybe it’s something you chose to trust that ended up being a lie. Maybe it’s someone you chose to trust that ended up not being trustworthy.
So, shall we stop pursuing resolution? Is the point of no return the moment you throw your hands up in defeat? Is it when you give up and succumb to the Falls? May it never be! Life is hard. The current is strong. But God made you on purpose, not to allow life to happen to you, but for you to happen to life. Life may be hard, but you are an overcomer! The current may be strong, but you are stronger! Don’t give up, paddle harder. Swim faster. This life is worth living, you needn’t be swept over the Falls.
You fall? Get back up. You hurt? Shake it off and take your next step. You lost? Find a way. You tired? Dig deeper. You alone? Reach out. You frustrated? Breathe, double down. You angry? Embrace peace. You sad? Don’t hold it inside, cry, then move on. You scared? Step into the light, get off the mental hamster wheel, know that you suffer more from imagination than reality.
Life’s current is ever-present. If not battled constantly, we risk being swept over the Falls. Be wary, the current may be subtle now, but the river is narrowing. If you’re not careful, you could drift past the point of no return. But know that if you do, you matter. Get up. Fight. Live another day. With you, humanity survives, even thrives. Without you, a piece of the puzzle is missing.
And when it gets really tough…reach out to a friend. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. We’re all in this together.
May you be wary of the point of no return, and seek to never cross it.