The exhibit was drawing hundreds. Everyone wanted to see the much-advertised machine. After all, it was a triumph of science and engineering, tangible proof that man had the ingenuity and intelligence to go wherever he wanted to go and accomplish whatever he dreamed. To the men and women standing at the brink of a new century in the year 1900, the machine proved beyond a doubt that science was supreme. Like new graduates, they believed the future was theirs.
What was the machine? A locomotive that laid its own track.
In a way, we’ve been laying our own track ever since. Since the industrial revolution, no boundary has remained un-breached. No barricade has held us back. We have boldly advanced into every realm of knowledge. We have heading into the next millennium with the throttle wide open. But where are we going? Our media is full of news clips and sound bytes revealing controversies over medical ethics never before imagined. Scandals in both political and financial arenas continually make headlines. Students and working people are forced onto an ever growing information highway, in a frenetic attempt to “keep up.” Meanwhile, social programs fail to meet real needs. The leading nations on our planet still spend billions on armaments while millions starve. Wars continue to rage while entire human populations are displaced or wiped out. Slavery still exists.
As writers of faith who are trying to make a difference in this world, we can surely be tempted at times to join with Solomon, a king known as one of the wisest men on earth, when he cried out – “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
Like Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, it could make us fall into depression. But the King had something to hang onto. He had hope. In the last chapter of his famous book of wisdom, Solomon says: “Remember your Creator…” He echoes the words of his own Psalm – “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Ps. 127:1) At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon gives the “conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
All the advancements of science and technology, all of man’s wisdom bound in a million books, will lead to emptiness or worse, when God is not honored and sought out. Without the direction of God, wisdom becomes foolishness, ingenuity is corrupted into the pursuit of evil. Look around. Proof lays littered around us like corpses. Our world can seem a chaotic place, but hope does lie in each of us. If we determine, each in his or her own life, to put God first, the future does indeed belong to us.
And most joyous of all, he has given this truth to us that we might broadcast it to this chaotic world. Let us therefore continue to press on, writing books of wisdom, books under the direction of His hand.