Thursday, March 13, 2014
There is only one foundation for life that leads to beauty and confidence on days of plenty, of need and of joy. Only one.
This foundation cannot be found in ourselves but in the one unchanging fact of life: the goodness and compassion of God that does not waver or change with our feelings or fortunes. Only this is unchanging.
Only this can save us from ourselves, from our self-assessments, from the judgments of others, from the feelings that accuse our hearts.
The message of Jesus, the word of the gospel is little understood in our western world, which is so addicted to the notion that human worth and peace of mind is based on our achievement.
I remember Bob. We just laid him to rest in December after a 10 year bout with cancer. He had fought a valiant fight, gracious and courageous to the last.
But the final months of his life were marked by what some might call “stinkin’ thinking.” He suffered from the ‘if only’ disease, replaying scenes from his life wishing he had made a different decision or acted in a more prudent, thoughtful way.
He regretted not getting serious about his faith or prayer until later in life, wondering how his life would have been better lived if he’d gotten serious and grown his soul at earlier age.
He’d lived a good and gracious life, loving his family, working hard, finding success in business, enjoying a variety of sports and excelling in a couple of them even into old age.
Still, he felt he had done too little. He felt he had not been good enough. He felt he could have and should have been a better human being. If only I had tried harder, he thought. I would have been a better person with fewer regrets now.
He was typical of most of us in the western world. The value of his life was built on the foundation of his actions, which at the end of his life felt insufficient.
Now, he felt his foundations shaking, and peace eluded him. He needed to claim another foundation for his life that was always there for him but was insufficiently claimed.
So we together we claimed it. We claimed the utter goodness and compassion of God for his life, for his living and his dying. This does not change. This is solid. This is real and dependable when our feelings and strength fluctuate wildly.
Recently, I stood at the bedside of a new friend, who is the most accomplished person with whom I have ever done ministry. Never before have I been called to the bedside of someone who has a Nobel Prize for physics in his office. He is among the most accomplished scientists of his generation, and the work of future generations will stand on his shoulders.
Yet nearing at the end of life, he is like us all, a beggar for grace. No accomplishment or prize gives peace, assurance and a quiet mind in the face of a terminal condition.
So he, who is so greatly accomplished, turns to the one unchanging fact of his life, the loving goodness of God which is solid and true, unwavering and certain whether we are having a good day or bad, whether we feel righteous and good or profoundly sinful.
Doesn’t matter. We change. We succeed and fail. We are faithful and faithless. We have good days and bad. We do good works and evil deeds. But the solid rock beneath our feet is the compassion of God revealed in Christ.
So at the break of the day and its ending, we turn again and again and again to taste and feel this goodness, reminding our restless souls that there is a place to stand, a quiet place to dwell, a certainty we can know
Our best life, our joy and peace, our patience and comfort, our love and kindness is built on this foundation.
Pr. David L. Miller