For the most part, we live our lives as prisoners of the great historical tides that ebb and flow among humanity. We proudly declare ourselves captain of our life’s vessel; then struggle desperately to maintain the course we have set — all the while never sensing the underlying tide carrying us along in its silent relentlessness.
The old Soviet Union was famous for its five-year plans. In these, they plotted the worldwide spread of communism, the burial of capitalism, and the oblivion of Christianity. They had about a dozen or so of these plans before the tide turned against them. The old Soviet Union is no more. Capitalism, the unplanned havoc of millions of lives in the marketplace, has overrun all but a few dictatorial or ivory tower holdouts. Christianity is now growing more rapidly than the world population — even under dictators’ noses.
The vast volume of water that moves in the ocean tides is difficult for any of us to comprehend. So too, the millions of individual lives of which history is made.
Here in Seattle, amidst the water, hydroelectric dams and salmon squabbles, I spoke with an Army Corps engineer responsible for regulating the water level behind the dam on Lake Union. He explained that the spillover from the dam may be allowed to run furiously for days and the locks pass numerous ocean-going vessels from fresh water to salt before the water behind the dam lowers even a fraction of an inch. So critical is the water level that the Corps has installed sensors miles before the water ever reaches Seattle. On the salt-water side of the large lock doors, the level raises and lowers 12 to 18 feet with the daily tides; yet it moves so silently.
Solomon, a man renowned for his wisdom and worldly experience in the ancient world, observed that “the race is not always to the swift … but that time and chance happens to them all.” Elsewhere in the Bible, the Apostle Peter tells us that God’s view of time is rather different than our own — in the neighborhood of a thousand years to a day.
He is the unquestioned master of the long-term view.
And so I find myself wondering: Is the tide turning here in America? We have a new president. To his opponents, he was elected by accident. To the media, he is a man of distressingly few words. Yet I can’t help but wonder if the vast ocean tides upon which the sea of humanity floats, like the tides on the other side of the lock doors, are obeying some force much larger than themselves.
Has the tide of selfishness and materialism in today’s America — a place its founders would never have recognized — finally spent itself?
Are we the generation destined to pass by the same scenery twice — not because that was the course we set for our lives — but because the tide turned?
Is this the generation caught in the shift and now turning toward God — or is it the generation weighed in the balance and found wanting?