Life Below the Dam
Author: Chris Johnson  

Last month, Michigan residents were startled to learn of the failure of the Edenville Dam, in eastern Michigan.

After several days of rain-caused flooding throughout the area, the dam was overwhelmed, draining a massive manmade lake right into the homes of those living downstream. A sister church in my denomination had congregants with water up to their ceilings.  Massive devastation, but thankfully no lives were lost.

What’s been under-reported is the privately owned dam’s owner’s side of the story in how this was allowed to happen.

Boyce Hydro Power was forced to give up control of the dam to a state agency in 2018, whose regulators had cited them for not being prepared for a once-in-a-million-years flood, according to The flood which did the dam in was considered a once-in-a-500-year event, apparently. In the aftermath of that loss of control, Boyce and the state had sued each other over how high the water level allowed by the dam would be.

Boyce claims that they were required by the state to raise the water level to accommodate endangered fresh water mussels against their own desire to keep levels low from concerns for the safety of those living below the dam. Boyce, in fact, petitioned to be allowed to lower the level, was denied, and went directly against the state’s regulation, out of concern for those living around the dam last November. Under pressure from the state, they raised the levels again this spring.

The state agency in question calls this claim “neither accurate nor fair,” for what it’s worth. Yet a suit brought by State Attorney General Dana Nessel claims as its first point, “Without authorization, Defendants dramatically lowered the level of Wixom Lake for an extended period in both 2018 and 2019 (Drawdowns), causing the death of thousands if not millions of freshwater mussels-many of which are federally endangered” and contains 29 other references to mussels.

Yet, ironically, the Edensville Dam failure is being used to argue that such infrastructure should not be allowed to be privately owned.

What I find interesting is the timing of the dam failure. Not humanly speaking, but from a Divine perspective.

To quote a conversation from the BBC’s Sherlock between Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes:

 “What do we say about coincidences?”

“The universe is rarely so lazy.”

The universe isn’t lazy at all, of course, because the universe is not a person, it’s a creation. And the Creator isn’t lazy at all, either. God orchestrates all of these events and when a dam literally bursts, it just might be a Divine hint for metaphorical “dams”  that might be bursting in our culture.

The United States Constitution could be viewed as a sort of dam holding back the waters of tyranny. It was literally written thus – so that no matter the circumstance, the federal government would know what measures it could and could not take. Anything beyond the constraints laid out therein puts those living under the dam, which is all of us, in danger. Of course, the waves have been lapping the top of that dam for decades now – just waiting for a once-in-a-five-hundred-year flood to overwhelm the constraints. For the sake of the Covid crisis, it was argued, we should let those waters raise a little – give a little unconstitutional authority to state and federal governments, for the sake of the endangered mussels hospitals. Well intentioned, perhaps, but a decision made ignoring the laws of nature.  The water was kept low for a reason.

We have only begun to find out what the implications of the precedents set for the sake of Covid will be.

Now we must wonder what concessions will be made for the sake of stopping the protesting, rioting, and looting happening around the country. The rule of law is a dam holding back the wickedness of man. Will it hold? Already we’ve seen police departments literally kneeling before protestors. It is right that where there has been prejudice against our black brothers and sisters that be acknowledged, and forgiveness be asked. But the law and those who enforce it must not bow to violent demands. What will the flood waters wash away should that dam break?

The Edensville Dam was overwhelmed by a storm. Of course, Christians know “whom the winds and the waves obey.” It can be easy to forget in circumstances that seem more dependent on ourselves, that God is equally as in control of these cultural, “metaphorical,” storms. In fact, Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”

Let us ask God how He would use us in these tempestuous times. Let us dig into His Word and be faithful followers, come what may.

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