Not long ago, I took a photo of a shark warning on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier in Southern California.

Initially, I focused only on the specifics of the moment – do you risk it, and paddle out anyway? Do you heed the warning and stay out of the water? I could imagine my younger self getting upset at the warning – I mean, it might have interfered with my fun!

What?!?! It seems absurd to be angry at the warning – like the tendency to “shoot the messenger” rather than hear the warning. Sometimes, after taking shots at the alarm, we even try to minimize the danger: the “It won’t happen to me” mentality.

The point is this: how many times have we been warned of sharks lurking just beneath the surface, and then at one level or another, ignored the warning? The dangers of pornography have been well-established, but it’s rare to watch an hour of network TV that doesn’t cross that line. We’ve been warned of the dangers of diets full of unhealthy fats and sugars, yet we continue to indulge in the instant gratifications, rather than heed the warnings – and our health suffers. In every aspect of life – financial, emotional, relational, physical, spiritual, mental, etc. – warnings of danger are posted.

May we VALUE the warnings, understand the dangers they alert us to, and use good judgment in our responses. Let’s stay out of unsafe waters.

Dr. Clark Hammond