Up against the Cliffs

“Up against the Cliffs,” New Era, July 2014, 46–47

Up against the Cliffs

Mike C., Gloucestershire, England

Instant Messages

Illustrations by Jim Madsen

One weekend I visited a seaside resort in the south of England. While there, I wanted to get to a place called Fairlight Glen farther up the coast. As I started to walk up the coast, I saw a sign saying, “Do not walk along this section of the beach.” No other information was given, and I didn’t know why the instruction was placed there. I ignored the sign and continued up the coast to Fairlight Glen.

As I walked I noticed that the tide was coming in. On one side of me were very steep, almost vertical cliffs, and on the other side the sea was closing in. I realized that I could be trapped by the incoming tide. I panicked and started to run! The pebbles on the beach made it very difficult to run, and as I put my weight down, my feet would sink in and cause me to feel as if I were getting nowhere. Realizing that I might not make it to Fairlight Glen in time, I looked at the cliff face and considered climbing at a point that didn’t look as steep as the rest. But as I held on to the cliff face, the soft chalk rock gave way and there was no grip or support to climb up. Continuing to panic, I ran along the beach until I eventually reached Fairlight Glen, where there was easy access up the cliff face.

I’ve thought about how much that event applies to our lives in the Church today. God has put certain rules in place, and sometimes we don’t know why. However, God’s commandments can be a blessing and a protection for us because they prevent us from getting involved in sin or spiritual and physical danger.

I now appreciate the wisdom of that sign near the coast. Although it was a restriction, it was also a protection from being trapped by incoming tides. Had I followed its wise advice, I wouldn’t have put my life in danger that day. I know the same is true for us when we choose to keep the commandments, because they are there to bless and protect us and keep us safe.