There are many Christian voices clamoring for how to “turn back” the nation to Christian values. I am not usually impressed with the mainstream response of how. It usually involves “going back” to the “good old days” and has a lot of “do” and “don’t” along with it. It also includes throwing stones at the establishments that be.
The subject of change in Christian circles often revolves around “turning the tide.” What is perhaps rightly recognized is that our culture has persons, ideas, institutions, religions (and non) that create forces or pressures (tide) in American culture that are much different than when the Christian religion was clearly the dominant influence. Christians still make up a majority of persons in America, but the impact we have is much smaller in comparison. Perhaps “turning the tide” is the wrong idea altogether?
When I was in Panama a couple of summers ago, one of the first things I did was to go to the ocean. As a youngster, we traveled to Florida and swam in the ocean yearly. I would say I am a pretty good swimmer. Panama was different. We arrived at the resort in Panama late afternoon. After being the in the water for a short time, a whistle was getting blown at me. “Get out of the water! The tide is changing…resume in the morning.” I was stunned. I thought, did he know how well I can swim? He didn’t care. He knew the tide, and he knew it was greater than my abilities. So what did we do? We did what we could elsewhere until things changed. Let’s keep reflecting on water and waves to zero in.
When we were allowed in the water the waves were actually very large. As I watched my daughter and cousins play in the sand, I tried to fight against the waves at the edge of shore. The power was incredible and the sand and sea shells scraped against my skin and my balance was never stable. There was nothing I could do to stop these waves from coming and going. But something did work.
I began to sense the timing of the waves hammering forward and drawing back. Instead of fighting the waves I let myself enjoy them and flowed with them. Certainly, the fight was a good workout, but it could not go on forever. With a new sense of timing and rhythm figuring out my motions became easy. Moreover, with a good pair of goggles I could explore the ocean floor and have an extra adventure along the way.
My advice to those who are fighting; buy a surfboard. Realize that flourishing can still happen in environments that may not be construed to our perfect favor. Perhaps, as we give ourselves the time to discern the waves, we will find the right rhythm, purpose, and strategy. One that is not destined for ruin. And, at the end of the day, let’s remember that the tide will one day turn again.