The Wayfarer

Imagine a wayfarer. He has been brought to a standstill at the foot of a mountain, tremendous, impassable. It is this mountain . . . . . no, it is not his destiny to cross it, but he has set his heart upon the crossing; for his wishes, his longings, his desires, his very soul, which has an easier mode of conveyance, are already on the other side; it only remains for him to follow. Imagine him coming to be seventy years old; but the mountain still stands there, unchanged, impassable. Let him become twice seventy years; but the mountain stands there unalterably blocking his way, unchanged, impassable. Under all this he undergoes changes, perhaps; he dies away from his longings, his wishes, his desires; he now scarcely recognizes himself. And so a new generation finds him, altered, sitting at the foot of the mountain, which still stands there, unchanged, impassable. Suppose it to have happened a thousand years ago: the altered wayfarer is long since dead, and only a legend keeps his memory alive; it is the only thing that remains—aye, and also the mountain, unchanged, impassable. And now think of Him who is eternally unchangeable, for whom a thousand years are but as one day—ah, even this is too much to say, they are for Him as an instant, as if they did not even exist. . . .

Anyone not eternally sure of Himself could not keep so still, but would rise in His strength. Only one who is eternally immutable can be in this manner so still.

He gives men time, and He can afford to give them time, since He has eternity and is eternally unchanging.

– Søren Kierkegaard

This passage appears in Kierkegaard’s book, Judge for Yourselves! and illustrates the unchangeableness of God. It’s a comforting thought to me to know that God is unchangeable. There have been times in my life that felt synonymous with change, instability, or uncertainty, and the knowledge of God’s unchangeable nature was a constant relief. Even though I found great solace in that aspect of His character, I’m glad that I am not unchangeable in the same way.

God gives us time, and what a wonderful gift it is. True, we often want to speed time up or slow it down depending on our current experience, but time has to be a gift. We don’t exit the womb with fully formed ideas about ourselves and the world. We grow and change, and that takes time. As much as we want to make time our enemy, it’s our friend. Of course, time marches us toward death, but in Tolkien’s mythos, death is the Gift of Men. It calls us to action and to change and push forward rather than to live in the past. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and for that, I’m thankful.

We’re all in the midst of process. We’re being shaped and formed and identities are taking root. If it takes anything to understand who you are, it takes time.

Prayer and Reflection

Think about how you’ve changed over the years. Pray that the Spirit continues to shape you into greater Christlikeness. Embrace the gift of time and be thankful that we aren’t static.

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