Taking the Tide at the Flood

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. -- Shakespeare


Perhaps nobody said it better than The Bard.

Into each of our lives, there comes a time of decision. A time when the elements so converge that all that we are or ever hope to be comes down to the choice we make in a single moment that determines our destiny. And, very often, that of those around us.

In short, a time for choosing, a time to take the tide at the flood.

In my own life, I’m reminded of October, 1961.

For decades, my dad, a Methodist minister, had successfully ministered to the needs of small-town congregations, visiting the ill, comforting the bereaved, nurturing their souls, shepherding the flock. He was, in the words of the hymn, their “heavenly sunlight.” In the words of one parishioner, their “shelter in the time of storm.”

Then, the call came to leave the warm, comforting, quaint – cozy, as it were – atmosphere of Norman Rockwell’s America. To move out of Mayberry. And to take up the rigors and responsibilities of a large, inner-city church, whose membership alone was the size of many of the towns in which he had so joyously served.

And our little family of five – Dad, Mom, and three young children – moved from Hancock, Maryland, to Baltimore City, none of our lives would ever again be the same. And neither would the lives of thousands and thousands of others.

Now, when Dad gave an altar call, scores came forward. When he visited the sick, it was from the wee hours to the dark of night, for hours on end. And when he went to his final resting place decades later, one of his parishioners said, “If Gordon Clews is not in heaven, there is no God.”

Well, of course, there is a God. And it was His charge to keep that my dad honored when he made his commitment to “take the current when it serves.”

Please understand, I do not say all of this just to pay tribute to Gordon Clews. He has long since gone on to his “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, gave him at that day.”

I say it because I want you to know the difference it can make for you and all around you when the world shifts beneath your feet, and you face your very own hour of decision that will determine your destiny. In short, when you take the tide at its flood.

The fact is that in this country at this time, like it or not, we now face an ineluctable evanescence into what many would consider the abyss. The America that once was is no more. And unless there is very soon a course correction of prodigious proportions, we will never see its wonderful like again.

How can I say such a thing? Well, I spent more than 40 years at the very highest levels in Washington as a top political operative. So, I know what evil lurks in the hearts of politicians. And what I am now hearing from all who remain at apex of power is that the Biden agenda – from his ruling by decree to his dismantling of the military to his trillions of dollars in burgeoning welfare spending – is “transformational.”

I hear it from those on the right, as well as those on the left (including this president’s spokeswoman). The former say with sorrow. The latter with ill-disguised contempt. But all agree that the new social order will leave America’s once-vibrant middle class, with their middle-class morals and mores, with nowhere to turn – and no one to turn to.

At least on these shores.

And that is why, for millions and millions of Americans – perhaps, including you – the kind of choice my father faced, oh, so many years ago is now upon you. In essence, to muddle, or move.

You can stay where you are and do what you have always done. You can live what Teddy Roosevelt called “the life of ignoble ease.” You can endure “the voyage of life… bound in shallows and in miseries… and lose [y]our ventures.”

Or you can take “the tide at its flood” and make your move offshore, just as my dad made his move “uptown.” And should you do as he did, it will “lead on to fortune.” Not only for you – but for those you love.

In closing, let me tell you the “rest of the story” about the move we made from the hills of Hancock to the streets of Baltimore…

As Dad was making the decision that would change our lives, I approached my one day with tears in my eyes. I told him I was scared of going to the “big city,” because we didn’t know anybody there, and I was worried about what would happen to us all.

Tenderly taking me in his arms, he explained with painstaking patience what serves as a lesson to us all.

He said, “None of us knows what the future holds. But, I do know this – you and your brother and sister are going to have more opportunities in the ‘big city’ that you could ever hope to have in the small towns. You are going to see more. You are going to learn more. And you are going to be able to dream bigger dreams than you ever imagined possible. And I owe it to you to offer you that.”

I believe you now owe it to yourself and those you cherish most to mount that “flood in the affairs of man,” to “take the current when it serves” – and make the offshore move that “leads to fortune.”
Tide by Matt Howard is licensed under Unsplash

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