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Shasta Dam is located in Shasta County, near Redding, CA. A large edifice with spectacular scenery surrounding it, this dam held lessons that could only be learned by traversing the 43 stories down into the dam. On a tour led by an extremely funny scientist, who reminded us over and over again that he was retiring in 1299 days, I learned life lessons from this man made, government funded structure, that I did not expect to learn.

  1. Popularity does not equal reality.
    1. We were told that the Shasta Dam is the second largest dam in the United States and then were asked to share what we believed was the first largest dam in the U.S. With boldness and confidence someone on the tour declared that Hoover dam was obviously the first largest dam, but to our surprise, though Hoover dam is the most popular dam in the US, it is not the largest. Truthfully, Hoover dam is the fourth largest dam in the US, even though it is an expensive dam to visit, paying $23 entry fee and $7 parking fees. The largest dam in the US is located in Eastern Washington and is called Cooley Dam. So despite its popularity with the American public, Hoover is not the largest dam in the US. In a world of social media where everyone is wondering how many likes they got on their status, or how many views they got on their latest YouTube video, it was a great lesson to learn that popularity does not equal reality. As believers the reality is, our value is determined by God alone, not by people’s opinion of us. Psalm 139:13-14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that His works are wonderful and we can know that full well. You are a diamond, you are extremely value to the Lord.
  2. Mortar restricts movement.
    1. During our tour, we were told that the blocks of cement, which are possibly the size of a homes foundation, are stacked side by side and one of top of the other, but not one of them is connected by mortar. Mortar is the adhesive, similar to grout that you find between kitchen or bathroom tiles that keeps them together. The reason these blocks of cement in the dam are not held together with mortar is because it restricts movement. When the water increases or decreases it expands or contracts the dam and the blocks needed to absorb those changes, so no mortar was used. When he said this, I immediately thought of I Peter 2:5 which says, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We are like those blocks of cement, we are the living stones, set side by side and stacked one on top of the other, with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone, but without mortar, for it restricts our movement as a body.
  3. Histories Heave Ho
    1. The final thing that I learned was that the men who were building the Shasta Dam were doing so during the draft for WWII. The US Government decided that the work the men were doing on the Shasta Dam was so critical for us as a nation, they did not draft these men for war as soldiers, but granted them the same GI bill benefits of all the other soldiers, because their work assisted the war. Without the completion of the Shasta dam there would have been limited artillery for the soldiers, for the dam was a source of power, energy and production that resourced those that were going into battle for our nation. Everybody played a critical role, even though some looked on the outset as more important that others, each was needed for military success in WWII. This is so true for us as believers as well, Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 12, we all have different gifts, but we need that diversity in order to be effective as a body. So, history gives us a heave ho to remember, we all have a part to play and if one part is not as front and center as another part it does not make it any less significant.

My trip to the Shasta dam taught me life lessons I will never forget. I believe that every experience we are presented with has the potential to teach us things we do not know, if we are willing to listen to the lessons others learned while doing what they could when they could do it. We live in a time in history where the past is familiar, the now is here and the future is unknown, so lets allow history to be wind in our sails, to remind us we are not alone, there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on (Hebrews 11). So, don’t forget popularity does not equal reality; mortar restricts movement; and history is giving us a heave ho. Forward we go, as one!