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Houston water main causes major flood: How the future guides the present

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Category Culture

I grew up in Houston, Texas, where flooded streets are a way of life. Because the land is so flat, water after hurricanes or storms has nowhere to go but the city’s bayou system. When they flood, everything floods.

But yesterday was the first day I can remember when the city was flooded with no major storms in sight. The problem wasn’t above the ground but below it.

A ninety-six-inch water main provides as much as 50 percent of the city’s water. It is thirty-five years old. Private contractors were working on it when it burst.

The break sent water flowing nearly two miles away. Freeways, streets, and even cars were submerged in east Houston. People had to sit on the roofs of their cars awaiting rescue. The sheriff’s department marine unit had to assist.

Workers had to wait six to eight hours for the water main to drain before they could repair it. City residents have been under an order to boil water for twenty-four hours. Restaurants with no water pressure had to close immediately.

I don’t know how long it took to break the water main, but I do know that it will take far longer to repair the damage. And I know that the mistake is affecting far more people than the person who made it.

Here we find an important life principle: we should consider the future before making decisions in the present.

How the future guides the present

The tempter likes to claim that no one will know or be hurt by the sin we’re considering. But this is just one way he is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Pharaoh’s “hardened heart” devastated his entire nation. Hitler’s maniacal hatred of the Jewish people led to the Holocaust. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” according to the 9/11 Commission Report, created a strategy that devastated our nation.

The converse is true as well. Joseph chose enduring character over present temptation, a decision that led to prison but then positioned him to be used by God to save his people. Daniel chose to pray to God rather than to the king, a commitment that led to the lions’ den but then to God’s greater glory. Paul chose to follow God’s Macedonian call, a commitment that led to prison in Philippi but also to the extension of the kingdom across the Empire.

The next time you are presented with a temptation or an opportunity, ask what the future would say to the present. If you do what you’re considering, will your self in five years thank you or grieve for you?

And know that your Father will lead you if you’ll let him.

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