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A DEEP SUBJECT

A DEEP SUBJECT

“For the human heart and mind are deep.”
Psalm 64:6

When we forget God we inevitably forget the wonder and majesty of being created in His image. That is why our post-Christian, post-modern culture is struggling with basic, fundamental questions such as “Who am I?”, “What does it mean to be human?”, and “What is human life worth?” For us to lose touch with the God that we were created to image, is tragically to lose touch with our own meaning and significance.

I turn repeatedly to the today’s text for a reminder of the depth and incomprehensibility of who are: “For the human heart and mind are deep”. Deeper than the Grand Canyon is each person made in the image of God. Each of us is deep and fathomless, created “a little lower than God, and crowned with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5). The person I look at in the mirror every morning is deep, as well as every person I pass hurriedly on the street. The mystery we call God, created each of us mysterious and deep.

I first started thinking about the human depths when I was a chaplain to young men in prison. I began to understand that far beneath the surface appearances were depths of heart and mind that only God could know. And when my mother was dying from Alzheimer’s, I realized that in the deepest recesses of her heart and mind God was working. Each person created in the image of an incomprehensible God is also incomprehensible in his depths.

Kallistos Ware, an Eastern Orthodox churchman and theologian, writes about the depths of each human person:

The mystery of the fact of being a person cannot be reduced to the facts of relevant sciences, such as physiology, psychology, or sociology. There is always something more, not to be adequately expressed in words, for the reality of being a person is far greater than any explanation that we choose to give it. It is an intrinsic hallmark of personalness to be open, always to point beyond. This means that we have no clear conception of the limits of our personhood, of the possibilities as yet latent in our personalities, and of the ultimate fulfillment of being a person.
(from the Foreword of Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today, by Patriarch Bartholomew)

Just as there will always be more to God than we can imagine, so there will always be more to each one of us, His image-bearers, than we can imagine. Valentine’s Day can even become a reminder to couples to keep exploring the depths of the other’s heart and mind created in the image of an infinite God. We must never lose the wonder and incomprehensible mystery of the other.

As I wonder at the depths of each person, three things come to mind:

  1. Just like the Apostle Paul, we are unable to know or to judge the depths of our own hearts and minds (I Corinthians 4:2-5). We must leave such judgments to the mercy of God at the Last Day.
  2. Similarly, if we are unable to know even the depths of our own hearts and minds, then we are unable to know the hearts and minds of others. We are incapable of sitting as judges and juries of other people’s intentions and deepest thoughts. The depths of a person’s inner life we must leave to God’s mercy and to ours.  
  3. God’s knowledge of us is “too wonderful…so high that we cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6).  Because only God really knows you, and really knows me, we must humbly pray every day:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”
Psalm 139:23-24

Grace and peace,
Tim

photo by Moyan_Brenn

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