Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. 1
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26.3
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. 2
I read the first quote this morning and it reminded me of the second quote from C.S. Lewis. Both quotes hold out the possibility of a better life if only we’d look beyond our current circumstances. Sometimes that is easier said than done.
… I know it’s hard when you’re up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp. —Ronald Reagan, February 10, 1982
There has been a good deal of conversation around this topic here at the Goshorn home in Louisville. We’re here because God has called me to ministry. On sunny Fridays and Saturdays when I have to go to work, while everyone else in the free world has the day off (an exaggeration, I know), the goal becomes cloudy. Or when I’m up to my armpits in Hittite treaties, serving after seminary seems a very distant goal.
I have found myself leading a hurried existence in these past few months—I’m always in a hurry it seems to be somewhere, to complete some reading or project. I have had to force myself to slow down and enjoy what I’m learning and look to the future when, God willing, I’ll use what I’ve learned in ministry to God’s people. When my friend Ted decided he was going to seminary, our senior year in college, I remember a little old lady who came up to Ted after he had spoke and said, “Don’t let seminary ruin you.” At the time I thought it was a bit odd for her to say that. Now I understand: One can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of classes, readings and papers and lose sight of the joy of learning more about God and His amazingness. Kind of like that old saying of losing sight of the forest for the trees. I need to be a man who sees the forest, not concentrating on the individual trees.
In times when I feel as if the alligators are winning and the swamp will never be drained, I have one who reminds me of the goal. One who has been in the swamp with me, who knows me better than any other: Jan. Jan believes in me. This song, which I first heard during the 1996 Olympics. I had never heard of Karla Bonhoff, but this song continues to resonate with me and it speaks to how I view Jan’s support over these years. Enjoy.
1 Thomas Kelly, American Quaker teacher
2 C.S. Lewis