Blessings in Challenges

Bypass Channel

by Pastor Leo Launio

Few days ago, I decided to bring my wife and 11-year-old son to the Fish Creek bypass channel in Bowmanville to watch the salmon run. The salmon run is an annual Fall Season event when salmon, which have migrated from the ocean, and guided by the earth’s magnetic field and their sense of smell, swim back to the same river where they were born, and spawn on gravel beds. After spawning, all Pacific salmon and most Atlantic salmon die.

As we strolled along the bank of the creek, we saw families with their young children awed by the sight of the migrating fish, a newlywed with their entourage posing by the bridge, and, of course, game fishermen trying to collect a stock of salmon meat for winter. Sadly, we also saw several decomposing salmon along the way.

Finally, we reached the salmon bypass channel. Before the bypass channel were hundreds of salmon congregating, forming a queue worth emulating, each one waiting for the opportunity to jump over the bypass.

As we enjoyed watching the salmon jumped over the bypass, many of them failing in spite several attempts, my son asked one obvious question: why the bypass?

The bypass channel made the salmon passageway narrower and the water current stronger. There are reports claiming that several big salmon get stuck in the channel and only 1 or 2 percent are able to jump the bypass channel.

To answer his question, we went to one of the information signage. This is what it says: “This natural, open-air design includes a jumping component to prevent invasive fish species from getting upstream.”

It then mentioned the Sea Lamprey, a parasitic animal that attach to larger game fish with their sucker-like mouth. Their rasping teeth and tongue tear away the skin of the fish allowing the lamprey to feed on the animal’s blood. In the 40’s and 50’s, fisheries in the Great Lakes were decimated by the Sea Lamprey. Bypass channels prevent Sea Lamprey from going upstream and killing the salmon population.

Aha! An important lesson was learned: Bypass channels, like our daily challenges, are made to save us, not kill us.

In Mathew 7:14-15, Jesus reminds us of this important principle: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Laura Story captured this principle in her song – Blessings – when she wrote:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise


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