Winsome Words 7/30/12

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do — to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst — is by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own. … Fredrick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

Is this not the danger of learning too much from life? Like Mark Twain wrote, the cat that once sat on a hot stove will never sit on a cold stove either. The cat learned too much from a lesson. And so do we. We learn to persevere, be patient, cool our jets, not overreact, bide our time, and keep at the plow. But in so doing, and reaping the reward, we also learn to be cold, unaffected, and isolated. Is this not learning too much?

That softness of heart which is absolutely necessary to Christ-following can disappear under the grinding assault of severe providences, providences which by God’s hand had been calculated to open our heart to the seed of the Gospel. Instead we become a very responsible and a very plodding people who in large measure have shut down the capacity to feel. There is ever so thin a line between that attitude which keeps us engaged and at work in the trench warfare that is the Christian life and that war hardened soldier who no longer can feel the horror and brokenness of it all. We have learned the motions but lost our humanity. We can do our responsibilities but can no longer worship and weep over our lostness and the lost condition of others who suffer under the tyranny of the present evil age.

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