Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Changed in the Unchanging

"For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."  Malachi 3:6

Despite the sort of dry, dusty internal landscape of my soul right about now, there's a great spiritual truth that keeps appearing and reappearing to my mind, fading in and out of my consciousness like a mirage in  the desert.  My spiritual temperature may be cold, but this truth remains:  He is the Lord God, who changes not.

Women especially are vexed (and blessed) by a broad range of emotional ground, some of which is covered from west to east in an hour. (Ask my husband for references on that one).  For years in my travels with God, I believed if I felt good, if I was being "good", that the Father was good with me.  Conversely, when my darker, more arid times rolled in, my fouled up understanding of the nature of God lead me to think He was mad at me, or frustrated at least.  As if somehow this puny but beloved child of the Great One could upset the inner workings of the Absolute Supreme Master of the Universe. 

It's a great relief to stop taking oneself so seriously.

A whole lot of life is lived on the plain, and frankly the folks I respect and admire the most are first the ones who accept adversity and keep climbing, and second those who know how to live well in the mundane.  My friend Kate is that person.  For 20 years she has been patiently, kindly, cheerfully taking care of her dearly beloved, severely autistic son Timmy.  Twenty years of cooking him the same foods, (the few he'll eat), bathing him, diapering him, putting on the same Barney video for him, bringing him to Walmart for a change of pace, and ditto the next day.

The undulations of the pilgrim road are many.  Vexations without and within, comforts and pleasures, dealing with people, dealing with money, dealing with time...all things are constantly in flux.  It would be a fool only who would expect to feel the profound reality of God all the while.  He, of course, is never an inch away.  But our perception of Him is often impacted by the changing nature of our natures. Our perceptions can be trifled with by a sinus infection, or a low pressure system that won't budge.  To quote Ebeneezer Scrooge trying to make sense of why he was seeing his dead partner Marley:

“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

Our senses are great servants but lousy governors.  If we acted on every whim of our emotions, or didn't act because of their lack, would those firefighters have climbed the stairs at the World Trade Center while everyone else was coming out?  Would any marriage make it past the first temptation?  Would Columbus have sailed the ocean blue?  Would Jesus Christ have gone beyond Gethsemane to Golgotha?  Would our faith grow in the plain, where there are no great revelations or experiences of the presence of God?

God too has emotions, powerful ones, but because He isn't subject to sin He can have feelings (in some cosmic way I can't begin to understand), but He can remain ever steady, reliable and trustworthy in them.  He has set His love upon His own, and that's that.  He loves us when we're good and He loves us when we're not.  And He is still loving us when the sail of our heart is sitting on a windless sea.  All is dull, but all is still well.  The grand emotions of a speck of God's presence are withdrawn, and in that void humility and true faith are forged.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."  ~ Hebrews 11:1

The winds always change. Just keep doing the next right thing, whether you feel like it or not. We'll be moving again, sometimes under blue skies with the wind in our face, sometimes in the middle of a great storm.  No matter.  We change like shifting shadows.

"For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion."
~ Benedick to Claudio in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

 He is God.  He changes not.

Your friend on the currently windless pilgrim road,


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