The River

the-fallsThis story was transcribed from a teaching tape by author and Bible teacher, Steve Brown, of Key Life Ministries. I do not know who the original author is. Despite having heard this for the first time more than 30 years ago, it has never ceased to be one of my favorite allegories about where life ends apart from Jesus Christ. Enjoy!

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Once upon a time there was a Watcher who stood by a River. As He stood watching He noted with particular interest the people who floated continually by. Some swam, some drifted, some struggled against the current. But inevitably the force of the River took them where it would.

A little ways below the Watcher lay the Falls. They were some distance off, but if you had listened carefully enough and if everyone would be quiet you could hear them. Unfortunately most of the people who came downstream would not quit talking or laughing or struggling long enough to hear the Falls. They were so caught up in whatever they were doing that they paid no attention neither would they even listen with few exceptions to the Watcher’s solemn warning. Over and over again, the drifters would repeat the following scene.

“Hi there. What are you doing?”

“I’m watching.”

“Watching what?”

“The River. And I’m watching you.”

His gray clear eyes seemingly never blinked and the face behind His white beard seemed calm and peaceful with somehow a trace of sadness.

“How long have you been here?”

“Longer than memory. As long as the River itself.”

Some of the younger drifters thought the Old Man was probably a bit senile, but one young one asked the question anyway,

“Do you know where the River goes then?”

“I do.”


To the Falls.”

Many of the people in the River had heard something about these Falls but no one alive had ever seen them or at least made it back upstream to tell about them. Many people, especially the younger, ones didn’t even believe the Falls existed.

“Have you…uh- have you ever seen the Falls yourself?”

“I have.”

“What are they like?”

“They’re enormous. And NO ONE goes over them and survives.”

“You gotta be kidding.”

He didn’t answer, the unmoving expression and motionless eyes were answer enough.

“If that’s true, why don’t you warn people?”

I’m warning people. I’m warning you NOW- you will not return from the Falls.”

Many of the drifters left. They didn’t want to hear anymore. Of those who still hung back some were confused, some were scared, some angry. One asked,

“What are we supposed to do? No one can swim upstream for long; the banks are much to high and they’re too steep to climb.”

“That’s true. Downstream a little ways you will pass a thick rope. You must grab that rope however hard you have to struggle and hang on. Someone will pull you up out of the River and lead you to safety.”


“The Seeker.”

“Who’s He?”

“Your only hope. Someone Who has gone this way before you and paid a terrible price in order to prevent you from suffering the same fate.”

“Why do you call Him ‘Seeker’? What does He seek?”

“He seeks you.”

And that was another part of the story many had heard but most rejected it as a children’s fairy tale; a ‘Seeker’? RIGHT!; the ‘Falls’? SURE! Believing in that was OK for little kids and senile old men, but not for young, strong, healthy and intelligent drifters. That all sounds pretty weird- nobody really believes that stuff anymore.


“What if we don’t take the rope? Or can’t hold onto it? What if it breaks?”

“It has not broken for thousands of years. You can hold on, if you really want to.”

His voice trailed off. He didn’t say what he had seen of the remains of people who had gone over the edge.

“How do… how do we know that we can trust this ‘Seeker’?” another asked.

“Or You for that matter!” called another.

You must BELIEVE. You see, you have no other choice.”

At this most of the remaining group of drifters quit struggling to stay in place and let themselves go with the current.

“Well, thanks for the warning, Old Timer.” one said with a knowing smirk.

“Yeah, thanks. But I think I’ll go with the flow.” said another.

“Everybody else is heading this way. Besides, the River is such a buzz, it’s cool and clear and easy.”

“I’ll bet going over the Falls is a blast, too. It doesn’t sound so terrible to me.”

“Hey! Let’s all grab hands and go over together. It’ll be fun.”

And so it went until the sound of joking and laughter faded away and melted into the distant noise of the Falls.

And downstream hung, unnoticed for the most part, a blood stained rope.

Transcript from Key Life Ministries

Tape by author / teacher Steve Brown

Check outThe Gospel Message of Jesus Christ

About BrucenYvette

My name is Bruce. I live an abundant life filled by God's unmerited favor with my best friend and wife, Yvette, in northeast Florida. We believe that America was intentionally founded upon Biblical principles; that God is neither Republican nor Democrat; that real fishing is done from a kayak; and that true love is 90% what one does for the one loved and 10% about how one feels about it. We live in a multi-thousand-dollar house (trailer); are considered the family "rednecks" by four grown children in whom we have immeasurable pride who have blessed us with soon-to-be 12 grandbabies!
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