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“Linchpin for Disaster!” Romans 13: 8-14 Key verse(s): 13: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”

In the recent heavy rains that struck the state this past spring, of chief concern were the numerous earthen dams that dot the state and its many waterways. Would they hold? Some of these dams were constructed decades ago; some even before that. Most were designed with what the engineers at the time knew to be the average tolerances of earth to the pressure of water as measured by peak water levels at the site as well as the expected peak pressure of the water levels in the area. In essence, there is little way to adequately insure that every dam will be constructed to withstand that once in a century storm that brings once in a century peak water levels. This fact was brought out rather vividly when a nearby earthen dam began to fail and the local media began to pay attention to the possibility of a disastrous flood. Their coverage included press interviews with Department of Natural Resources engineers and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Since many of these dams were built by the army in the course of the last fifty to sixty years, attention was focused in particular on what the army engineers had to say. In the weeks that followed and the rain continued to fall, one interview after another appeared in the local media. Most focused on the need for careful observation and the even more pressing need to be prepared if the dam was breached. Since the object of their advice was not to panic anyone but to simply prepare them for what might happen, one engineer after another appraised the situation cautiously, always underscoring that the dam had been constructed with heavy rains and flooding in mind. Then, one day, I heard an interview on a local radio station that gave me pause. It was an interview with a retired corps engineer who had been involved in the construction of the dam in the first place. He said something very interesting and very inciteful. When asked about the method by which the dam had been constructed and how integral he felt that the dam was then and would be now, he replied. “It was built to last but there is no telling where there might be just that one stone, that one stone, out of place within its mass that had been misplaced by but an inch. In that case, the whole system might be resting on one stone destined to move ever so slightly when a certain pressure is reached. That movement, however slight, might cause a breach within seconds.”

A “Linchpin for disaster”. That is what some have called jealousy. On the surface a small thing, hidden away within the dark recesses of the human spirit, jealousy should never be underestimated for its potential to cause not only difficulty but major trouble.

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