Job 1:20-22 (NIV)
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
For every action, there is a reaction. Everything we do in life has consequences, some positive, some catastrophic. The Klondike Gold Rush was no different.
Although some of the prospective miners were driven by a sense of adventure and by the desire to explore and see new things, many were driven by greed and were ruthless in their methods of obtaining gold.
Primitive mining methods, such as digging sediments by hand from stream banks and underground tunnels, seemed harmless enough; but these left extensive damage to the stream and river beds. When the larger mines were established, hillsides and entire mountains were plundered and silt and mud filled the waterways. Forests were completely stripped in order to supply timber for building boats and for feeding the fires needed to melt the sediments.
As the twentieth century rolled around, the richest and most easily accessed gold deposits had already been depleted, and harsher, more destructive machinery, designed to reach the deeper deposits and process the sediment faster, was brought in. High-pressure hoses completely knocked down hills in the ruthless search, and huge dredges reworked entire waterways. The destruction was colossal.
This total loss of natural habitat resulted in annihilation of both land and aquatic wildlife. In addition, an overabundance of mercury, which was used to process the gold, can still be found in the Yukon. It has made its way up the food chain and still accumulates in fish and other wildlife in alarming concentrations, resulting in health risks among humans and animals alike.
The ones who suffered the most from extensive destruction were the first nation's people, including the Tagish, the Tutchone, and the Tlingit. Because of its massive mountain ranges, ice fields, harsh terrain, and wild rivers, the Yukon had always been extremely hard to access; and before the gold rush, these First Nations groups had been quite isolated from the outside world. No wonder the Yukon was considered the last unexplored and unmapped region in North America!
With the influx of white man seeking gold, all of this changed. Miners brought diseases that the first peoples had no immunity to, and in many areas, entire tribes were wiped out. Hunting and fishing grounds were destroyed, making food sources scarce, and what wildlife remained was laced with high concentrations of mercury. Some of the natives worked as packers or as suppliers of wood for steamboats. They were unaccustomed to cash however, and few ever profited. Their traditional lifestyle was lost forever.
Everything we do, everything we say, and even everything we think can have dire consequences. In fact, I have never met anyone who could assure me that all of his or her actions have always had positive consequences.
The one who lovingly died on the cross to bring salvation to this world.
He encouraged us with the following words: "Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room." (Luke 11:34-36 The Message)
The problem is, none of us have ever been able to keep a "well-lighted" life all of the time! Our actions speak much more loudly than our words, and past memories are often contemplated with regret: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23 NIV) Some of us anticipate with terror the end of our earthly life: "Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences." (Heb 9:27 The Message)
The Good News is that the consequences don't have to be dire. The One who lived an exemplary life has provided salvation for you. All you have to do is accept His offer: "Christ's death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation." (Heb 9:28 The Message)
"Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public - to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it's now - this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness." (Rom 3:23-26 The Message)
Dear Lord, we thank You that even though we have sinned YOU have made a way for us to be forgiven. We pray today that we would have a positive influence on those around us. I Jesus’ Name, Amen.