Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: You Can Change

There is something in each of us which tends to make us think that whatever is happening to us right now will last forever, though rationally we may know this is not true.

I have never been to Milan, Italy but I have read that the great Cathedral of Milan has three doorways. Over the left doorway is carved an inscription that reads: "All that which pleases is but for a moment." Above the door on the right is written: "All that which troubles is but for a moment." Over the central doorway is written: "That only is important which is eternal." The best and the worst of life are but for a moment. The worst thing that has happened to you will not be the last thing that will happen to you. 

Circumstances change. Whatever is happening to us is just for a while. Life is but for a little while; and after a while we will leave this life and slip into another dimension of reality, the nature of which is beyond our understanding.

God says: "After a while." to us all. To those whose lives are wracked with pain, both physical and emotional, the thought brings comfort and hope. To those whose lives are spent using people and loving things, the thought is a threat. There is hope and encouragement in the promise that God can help us change the direction of our lives. No person need stay the way he or she is. God can break into our sin-ridden lives and our troubled world to help us on the way to 'after a while'.

Our anxiety and fear combine to cripple our efforts to manage life. It is important for us to deal creatively with our doubting minds that saddle us with anxiety and fear. Our worry about the future does not empty tomorrow of trouble, it empties today of strength. Our worry does not save us from an encounter with the devil, it only makes us unfit to cope with him when he or she comes. We must develop a confidence in the power of God to intervene in our lives and our times. We do so many unhappy things to ourselves and to people around us because we do not believe that we matter to God and we do not ask for help.

I came upon this story in Reader's Digest some years ago. "While I was sitting in my parked car on the street one day, a young woman in the car ahead came over and asked me if I had a hammer she could borrow. When I said no, she got one from the man in the car in front of her. She then deftly proceeded to smash out the vent pane on the driver's side of her car. After returning the hammer, she opened her door, took out the keys, and waved them at us with a triumphant grin. As she drove away, the fellow who lent her the hammer came over to me, spread his hands and said, ‘If only she had told me why she wanted the hammer I think I could have helped her. I'm a locksmith.' "

We do tend to go through life hammering away at fragile and valuable things we do not understand and cannot solve, when there is, more often than not, help available to us for the asking. We break and hurt so much in ourselves and in others when, if we would but ask, we could resolve the matter far less painfully.

Remember, an old friend of ours over 2000 years ago said: "Ask and it shall be given to you!"