“The sea is his, for he made it.”
– Psalm 95:5
THE TIDES OF LIFE
Our greatest enemy in periods of stress is time. We want things to be righted quickly. We want to have our answers quickly and we want to be free of the binds of sadness. These periods of time can stretch on endlessly, and the mountaintop of relief can seem too far away.
Charles Allen, the great pastor, writer, and radio host of the mid twentieth century, describes this period as the tide going out. He says, “Sometimes all we can do is wait for the tide to come back in again.” This is easy to say for those of us not in stress, but for the person in grief the wait can seem endless. It is here we must reconcile with the sovereign nature of God.
After spending two weeks on an island along the coast of Georgia, Charles Allen created a reflection on the tides. In this reflection he quotes Psalm 95:5, “The sea is his, for he made it.” Adding to this, Allen says, “Such assurances give one a deep sense of security. With a God like our God, we know that we really have nothing to fear.” Sitting and watching the sea reinforced Allen’s faith. A two-week statement by God to him on the majesty of the sea and of God himself.
Others have experienced similar feelings. When I asked my friend John Robinson, a well-regarded former CEO and considered a wonderful friend by many of his neighbors, with a knack of speaking common sense with immense clarity, about his faith, he replied, “How else could the deer glide so effortlessly into the trees, where no one of us could go? Or watch the birds fly to and fro; we only have to watch to know that only God could create this elegance.”
As a pastor, Charles Allen had seen and helped many distressed people. He noticed the similarity of their grief to the tides he watched for two weeks. The tide will come in and then go out. As with our lives, there are highs and lows. But the tide will always come back in. Believing this is the core of faith. Despite our present circumstances, God will always be with us and is sovereign. To have this belief requires an observation outside our lives. Perhaps it is an observation of the rhythmic tides. Perhaps the beauty and elegance of nature. Perhaps it is seeing great acts of mercy. Perhaps it is knowing that the night is always the darkest and coldest before dawn. The reconciling of our grief with the sovereign nature of God tells us which path to take.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman