August 11, 2020
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV 1984).
Saturday morning I visited one of my favorite patients in her home. She is now under hospice care, and we discussed the difficult path ahead for her and her husband. They are facing the struggle well as followers of Christ. That evening I was on my way to a happy dinner out with friends. As I passed my patient’s house, I marveled that I could drive by so freely with happiness, cut loose from the deep emotions within a house where I had been immersed in the same emotions that very same morning.
Even as followers of Christ, our hearts and minds are fickle. We move from a deep understanding of suffering to light-hearted banter, from deep worship to sinful imaginations, from total trust to abject despair…and back again.
At times I am ashamed of this flexibility of spirit with which we are so blessed or cursed. But I have come to accept it as a part of our human nature…though I am not sure whether it’s our fallen nature or God’s good creation that makes us so. Perhaps God planned us this way. As our circumstances change, our fickleness allows us to be present in the moment, where God always resides.
Since it is who we are, we should learn to live with this flexibility of heart as followers of Christ.
We need to:
- Realize and accept this flexibility of spirit as part of our nature;
- Remain alert and recognize our drift away from God when it comes;
- Respond to that drift with determination to return;
- Protect our hearts with time in His presence: committed to devotion, prayer and community;
- Step into the circumstances of others with a true sharing of their sadness or joy; and
- Enjoy the good times when they are ours, weep the tears when they are due, repent the darkness when we have chosen it and lay all times at the foot of the cross, that Christ may use them for His glory.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while in prison awaiting his death, reflected on this flexibility of his own spirit in a poem that described how different he often felt from the outward Godly man he portrayed. Sharing only a few lines, he wrote:
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once, a hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?…
But he finishes the poem with the only solid place to land within our fickleness:
Who am I? They mock me these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.
Teach me to live for the moment and let me know you within each moment.