Going Out and Coming In


Psalm 121: 8: The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Human beings are peculiar mixes. We are inconsistent, contradictory, vacillating and prone to changing our minds. On one hand, we grow tired of the same old thing. On the other, too much change makes us crazy. Consider food, for example. Have you ever considered just how a dog or cat loves the same old smelly messy dog or cat food day after day after day after day? And yet we as humans don’t want fish two meals in a row. Or pasta. You get the idea. At the same time we cling to what is old and familiar to us. It might be a car we’ve had for fifteen years or a pair of shoes or a favorite shirt that is practically in tatters. We require stimulation and comfort at the same time, in the same person in a way that is predictable. As Miranda said in Shakespeare’s Tempest, “O brave new world that has such creatures in it.” Indeed.
I was thinking of contrasting states and our response to them as we are resuming our regular schedule of choir rehearsals with more meetings and events to come during the “social season.” By late May, most of us are ready for a break. Although the school calendar is based on a long-gone agricultural economy and schedule, it persists in our post-industrial information-based cybernetic age of technology. And if that isn’t enough labels, there were more but I dizzied myself with about the fourth name. And so we’re “off” during the summer: we have the chance to do what we don’t usually have time or energy to do during the school year. But as the months of lassitude and leisure (or whatever) roll on, we find ourselves thinking, “It sure would be nice to have a few regularly scheduled things to tie the week down. I hardly know what day it is.” We long for the other way of life that only a month or so we had enough of.
So we are in that transition state to the “regular calendar” (whatever that means). And you may be sure that just as we long for the cooler weather during the hot humid days of August, we will be looking back on these heat waves we’ve been enduring with a certain fondness when the wind chill is well below zero. Either we have extremely short memories or we are a restless people, yearning for what we do not have and wishing for what we used to have.
I would suggest that there is a certain restlessness to our spirits because God created us that way. We look for all kinds of ways to quell this uneasiness that underlies our lives no matter how wealthy or successful we are or however many friends we have. Obviously, we as believers know what we long for in the depths of our souls is God. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa in the fifth century understood change well as the Roman Empire many thought eternal started coming apart. And he wrote this in his Confessions:
Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And we as part of Your creation desire to praise You. We bear our mortality and the witness of our sin… yet we earnestly wish to praise You. You move us to delight in doing so, for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.
In this time of change and at all times when change and uncertainty threaten to overcome us, may we remember our Rock and our Savior and rest in the Lord.

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