Last weekend while "the girls" quilted a few of "us boys" did a little "man" work. We cut up some wood using chain saws. We spread some wood chips around using a golf cart and dump trailer. We split some wood using a hydraulic wood splitter. If you've ever split wood the old fashioned way and then split wood using a hydraulic splitter, you know the power of machines. It's awesome what a machine can do.
The guys who are going to mill the trees we had felled at Lakeview Cottages have a big machine, a John Deere tractor with hydraulic claws, that can move logs the size of mobile homes. That's me in the cab. Only the photographer knows for sure whether I'm really operating the tractor. But even if I'm not, it's the idea of the thing, that with a machine like that I'd have the power to lift a huge log and move it around like lifting a toothpick and waving it around.
And as I spent the weekend marveling at the power of machines I contemplated the notion of power. What has power to move things? And it occurred to me that, as powerful as machines are, we have at our disposal at least three things with even more power than machines.
With the water level going down for the winter the faces of the four dams at Huntington Lake are exposed. I rode my Yamaha 225 around a bit inspecting dams and lakebeds and old short-line railroad tracks and massive water pipes and huge turbines and just marveled at the work that was done to create this system of lakes and power generating plants. But it wasn't the machines so much as it was the power of an idea -- the power of imagination and vision, that moved this huge project from nothing to reality.
John Eastwood, an engineer who was a pioneer in dam building and hydroelectric project design, rode alone on a mule through the San Joaquin river watershed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, envisioning a series of dams and hydroelectric power generation facilities at a time when no comparable system existed anywhere in the world. While he was given little credit for his ideas, and did not profit much from them, it was Eastwood's ideas and vision that really set everything in motion to move the mountains and capture the power of the water. Southern California Edison calls the emergent project, the Big Creek Project, "the hardest working water in the world."
Machines don't make ideas; Ideas make machines. So ideas are more powerful than machines. Ideas are in the mind, where another great power originates -- that of faith. I once heard a speaker say that every great champion has one thing in common; they all have faith (a strong and abiding belief that something will happen before there is concrete evidence to support it). These people have faith before they become a champion, that they can and will be champion. Faith is a driving force without which great things usually cannot be accomplished. Faith taps you into power beyond yourself. Jesus once said that " ... if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20
One thing is still more powerful, or at least more essential. All the recent science fiction movies envision the horror of a world controlled by machines or computers. Great and powerful machines but lacking the one great power of which we humans all have the capacity. And here I am talking about love. Paul, the apostle, put it this way: " ... if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2
Sue's slow recovery from cancer has relied on all of these great powers: the power of machines; the power of ideas; the power of faith; and the power of love. But without the latter, without the love you and we have given her, it's all for naught. Love has the power to move people, and really that's more important than moving things, isn't it? Be a powerful person today. Tell or show someone you love them.