Here is a thought provoking account told by Dr. George Sweeting in his book Special Sermons for Special Days: “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.”
This bird on Niagara Falls was certainly in a dire situation, but the problem was that he delayed until it was too late. He literally delayed himself to death. He might have been able to escape had he flown off earlier.
In Acts 22, Paul was speaking to the Jews about his conversion. He tells the men about his previous life as a persecutor of Christianity. He explains what he saw and heard from Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. He describes how he came to meet a man named Ananias, who taught him the truth. Then, as Paul began to see the sinful life he had been living and the great need for a change, Ananias uttered those powerful words, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (vs. 16). In this chapter Ananias helped Paul realize the dire situation he was in and the urgency to change it.
Far too many people get stuck to sin because they do not turn away quickly; they delay. As we know, we have the Bible to help keep us away from sin and its traps. Sometimes even when we know of these enticing prisons, we still delay our escape. No one knows when Christ is coming (1 Thess. 5:2-3; Matthew 24:36; 2 Peter 3:10); therefore, no one knows when it will be too late.
The bird obviously did not realize how much danger he was in until nothing else could be done. Ananias wanted Paul to see the urgency of his situation and the dire need to change it. Likewise, there may be sins in our lives that we know we need to escape from before it is too late. If this is the case, then this begs the same question Ananias asked Paul, “Why do you delay?”