By Dr. Jim Ferguson

I’m not a beach person like the Johnson side of my family.  I identify more with the Psalmist who said, “I look unto the mountains, from whence cometh my strength.”  Yet, I find myself at the beach again this year with our extended family and count my blessings.  Though I might prefer a misty Smoky Mountain high, I love my family even more.

My favorite time at the the beach is the beginning and the end of each day.  Lying in the sun is not my thing.  I worked on a tan once at the end of high school and I checked that off my to-do list.  The heat and glare of the noonday sun at the beach removes contrast and washes out the color of the dune grass and  God’s magnificent creation.  The Fiddler on the Roof also seems to focus on the beginning and end of the day as he sings “Sunrise and Sunset.”

I love pelicans.  Every year I see these stately birds gliding effortlessly down the beach, and I think about Mrs. Green.  Though long since gone she remains in my memories.  I’ve read that Jewish people have the philosophy that you’re never “gone” as long as someone remembers you.  As I watch a clutch of brown pelicans soaring above my head I think of the life lessons Senta taught me, and her pelican limerick.

“A wise old bird is the pelican.

He can hold more food in his beak

than his bel-i-can.

He can hold food in his beak

that can last for a week,

And I don’t see how

the hel-he-can.”

Some people live to eat while others eat to live.  My grandson Oakley is the latter.  His parents try and try to get him to eat enough.  I thought about pelicans as I watched my daughter and son-in-law try and coax Oakley to eat and then swallow the morsel they managed to get past his lips.  Oakley has been banned from Calamari until he’s in high school after they found a piece still in his cheek as ice cream was served for dessert.  Maybe there’s a bit of pelican in Oakley that causes him to hold food in his cheek (beak).  Maybe we should all chew and savor more, and gulp less in gluttony.

The call that parents fear most came to us at eleven last night.  Fortunately, it wasn’t an accident as we feared some years ago when we received a similar call in the middle of the night.  This time my daughter Emily was stranded due to a travel snafu.  The other time we feared the worst, but were blessed to find her safe.  This time her travel mishap was only a bump in the road by comparison.  (Perhaps my readers might agree to do a little vicarious parenting for the Doc.  Write her and suggest she move closer to those who love her most!)

Travel causes me to consider survival.  Why does my life get to go on because my daughters are again safe after their journeys to the beach?  Why is my friend’s daughter an invalid after a travel related car wreck?  I recently learned another friend’s daughter completed her journey with only one lug nut holding her tire to the rim after a service mishap.  I think back on my own life and wonder why I survived after falling asleep while driving back to medical school.  Awakening in the median of the interstate is disconcerting.  We’ve all done stupid things and wondered how we survived.  In college I remember driving home after a party one night with a snoot full like Otis Campbell of the Andy Griffith show.  At least Otis had enough sense to walk and not drive.

So far it has been my destiny to continue on the road of life rather than in its ditch.  Is this dumb luck or does Providence guide my journey?  The doctor doesn’t know the answer to this question either.  However, the notion that I am sustained by dumb luck amidst an uncaring universe is far less satisfying and probable than a purpose and a plan for me.  The universe remains mysterious and majestic and often inscrutable.

The survival of our country is in question.  Everyday there is some new disaster or revelation of malfeasance in the government.  The world is aflame “with wars and rumors of wars.”  There is no financial recovery; ask your neighbor rather than the perverse media that long ago sold their souls to the devil.  Our borders are not enforced and we are overrun by the needy who will drown us just like a drowning person does his rescuer.  We are divided as a people like never before, echoing the Master’s observation that a “house divided cannot stand.”  Even our titular leaders actually serve themselves, their ideology and political party instead of the country.  And our institutions (IRS, State Department, Justice Department) have become as corrupt as our leaders.

Americanism, as well as the Judeo-Christian philosophy that fostered western civilization, is under assault in the Middle East, in the far East, in Europe and in the United States by religious fanaticism, secularism and the progressive political philosophy.  The new McCarthyism of political correctness even raised the ire of the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.  He branded the intolerance of academia and his Harvard Alma Mater as intellectual McCarthyism.

America has been under siege before and survived the Depression, World War II, and even our horrible Civil War.  I don’t particularly countenance Biblical prophecy regarding time.  In fact, the Master repeatedly warned against predictions of when events will occur.  However, I do know history and I see many similarities between lost empires and America.  And as I read the Bible I see parallels between America and past cultures who chose man’s way over God’s.

Jeremiah preached his warnings in Israel for twenty-five years and few listened.  I hope our people listen and reverse the trend of apostasy and avoid utter distruction.

How interesting that the Bible verse for today on my iPhone is 2 Chronicles 7:14.  Pay attention, people!