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The Tide is Out

By Rev Dr Colin Peckham

The tide is out. The rocks protrude from the muddy waters, ugly and bare. Stretches of muddy sand mar the former beauty. Footprints show the progress of hopeful mussel, cockle and sea-food collectors. The tide is out.

Nothing attractive about the tide being out is there? No living waters moving, swelling, swirling, crashing, breaking against those cold grey stones, overcoming and submerging them in their heady conquest. no fish darting through the rising waves, no shouts and laughter from the happy swimmers. No. The tide is out.

When, oh when will it turn?

In some countries the tide is in and fish are being harvested in abundance. When churches are rebuilt their dimensions are always increased. The joy of the many fishermen knows no bounds. Shouts and laughter re-echo from the happy recipients of the waters in which they now swim. The incoming tide brings life wherever it flows. The tide is in.

In Britain today, it is a day of small things. the tide is out. We cannot imagine it otherwise. it is normal to have but a few people at our meetings. Churches are being closed as congregations merge. The national church loses thousands every year and has done so for many years. Growth is abnormal. We have settled for death! A few weeks ago I preached in a church whose attendance had dropped from 800 to eighty in the past twenty years. That's expected. People don't bother about church these days-that's normal. The tide is out.

The present young generation know nothing different. They don't know about the moving of the waters; they have experienced so very little of the glory of God descending upon a meeting, upon a camp. Rarely, if ever, have they known the melting pressure of a mighty God breaking through into the midst where tears flow freely and where lives are transformed for ever. They just don't know about it. The tide is out.

Poor Great Britain-once the tide was in and we were a blessing to the whole world; now the tide is out and we are spiritually bankrupt. Worst of all, we don't know it! We have forsaken the Word of the Lord. Crime must increase, lawlessness must abound-what's to hinder it! Our young people disgrace us on Europe's sports-fields. They have no foundation to life. They stand for nothing and fall for everything. The moral structure has crumbled-what else can be expected? Great Britain, we have lost our soul! The tide is out.

All we can do is to bend and gather our meagre cockles and mussels. They will keep some of us alive-fewer and fewer of us! It's a back-breaking job to keep on gathering cockles and mussels; it's a soul-destroying task to keep on preaching to people who have rejected the message you bring and have already passed into the godless vacuum of a materialistic post-Christian era. They don't want what you bring, and the coldness and indifference of the world has penetrated the very fellowships which once were expanding with vibrant life. These too have become very ordinary. The tide is out. Ichabod!

Is this the end of the road? Will darkness ultimately settle upon England's green and pleasant land, upon Scotland's majestic mountains? Will the grandeur of their history, the glory of their past merely become a fading memory until is passes quite out of mind and out of sight? Will England's darkness and Scotland's hardness become complete?

No, the tide must turn, the tide must turn! For those who are watching on the walls of Zion, the tide is turning. Not significantly at all-no. But it would seem that there are gleams of light here and there-very small gleams, merely glimmers, but there is light-hopeful, inspiring light. It would take time and space to speak of these, but in the darkness, God's promises shone brightest.

Let us not be disheartened but let us look for the tide to turn, and pray that God would set the times in motion and hasten the day when this land once again will be bathed in God's great light and be awash with the incoming flood for God's glory and blessing.

It will be a great day, brethren, when we can say to one another: 'It's high tide! It's God's high tide!'