Beside the Japanese dolls on my shelf this past Christmas was a Chinese doll. These days most Americans wouldn’t think it particularly special to have a doll from China — the trick might be to find one that is not from China — but in 1982 when I purchased this one, a doll from China was special indeed.
Ray and I were the young parents of three-year-old John and one-year-old Bethany when we drove up from Oxford, Mississippi, to Knoxville, Tennessee, in our grass-green Toyota Corolla (cheapest car sold in America when we had purchased it in 1975) to attend the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville.
America had suffered an energy crisis in the 1970s as a result of trouble in the Middle East. When the U.S. supported Israel, 0il-producing nations in the Middle East declared an oil embargo against the U.S. This resulted in serious gas shortages here. Energy was on the minds of Americans; when the city of Knoxville decided to host a world’s fair, they chose the theme, “Energy Turns the World.”
Energy was the theme, but the most popular exhibit at the 1982 World’s Fair was the China pavilion with its many cultural artifacts. This was China’s first exhibition at a world’s fair since 1904. When Ronald Reagan participated in the opening ceremonies of the 1982 World’s Fair, the United States had only had formal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China for three years. Fair attendees stood in line for hours to get inside the Chinese exhibit.
When I purchased that little six-inch tall Chinese doll at that world’s fair, I had no idea that just thirty-three years later, economic conditions inside of China would change dramatically and our stores would be filled with goods from China.
I share this with you today to give you encouragement. Conditions in our world can change dramatically in a relatively short time. When I was a girl, we were terribly afraid of Russia. Few could really imagine that the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain could come down and that people living behind them could live in freedom.
Today it is hard to imagine that conditions in the Middle East could ever change. I have two reasons for optimism.
- God is the Ruler of the Universe.
- I’ve lived long enough to see the unforeseen become reality.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.