Scholar’s Compass is our ongoing online devotional for academics. In it, we ask authors to write about how their academic vocations and their lives as followers of Christ fit together in a simple format: A quote from Scripture or a Christian author, a reflection, a question to think about, and a prayer. Since we launched the series in 2014, Scholar’s Compass has been one of our most widely read features. You can browse the whole series here. In this post, ESN author Christian Brady wraps up his Scholar’s Compass series on transitions. Follow this link for the whole series.
For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! —2 Corinthians 6:2 (NRSV)
In 2000 U2 came out with their tenth studio album, “All that you can’t leave behind.” The album will always be poignant to me because I was playing it in my car on September 11, 2001. After watching the terrorist attacks of that fateful day, I drove across Lake Pontchartrain to my office at Tulane University and with the crystal blue sky above me Bono’s soaring words of the title track “Beautiful Day” struck a harsh contrast with the reality unfolding in our country.
It’s a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
I am a product of my time and generation; I really do like U2. This album represents so much of what I love about their lyrics and lyricism. It is another song, however, that continues to speak deeply to me. Passionate and musically evocative, “Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” takes on an ever deeper meaning when we learn that Bono wrote it as an argument he wished he had had with his friend Michael Hutchence before he committed suicide.
I will not forsake the colours that you bring
But the nights you filled with fireworks
They left you with nothing . . .
Oh love, look at you now
You’ve got yourself stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it
Whether it is depression, grief, or sadness we can all, at one time or another, find ourselves stuck in a moment and feel like we can’t get out. The ability to survive such times is to step outside of that moment, to find a way to gain a broader perspective and see the full view of our life. It is imperative that we recognize that these moments are just that, moments that will pass and we can survive, live and move beyond this moment.
On the other hand, I do believe there is value in living in the moment. It is healthy and appropriate to feel fully the weight of guilt and sorrow, joy and exultation. So long as we do not get stuck in that moment, it is good for us to experience the fullness of our humanity, just as did Jesus, who “in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NRSV). Furthermore, it is in the moment that we are saved, for “now” is the day of our salvation, when God hears our cries.
The Gospel opens to us a new reality, a new awareness of time: God loves us and is present with us now and for all eternity. Every moment is unique and our own and we need to live into it fully, but always with the awareness that it is all part of our larger life in Christ that extends beyond this world into the next. “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NRSV).
Almighty and eternal God, you entered into history as a human and experienced all the hurt and pain, the joys and elations of humanity. In moments you wept, you loved, you were tempted, and you asked to be relieved of your burden. Yet you took up the weight of the cross for us, knowing that it would become for us the gateway into eternal life with you. Grant that your presence and peace would reside in us and with us in every moment of this life and grant us the vision and faith to see and claim the future life we have in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Consider a moment that you thought “would never end”:
• What is your perspective on that time now?
•How does this knowledge of coming through and beyond difficult moments help you cope with such future moments?
• How does the assurance of the resurrection inform and transform your view of this life?
About the author:
Christian M. M. Brady is a scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and an academic administrator. His academic research focuses upon the interpretation of the Bible in antiquity, especially the ancient rabbinic commentaries of the books of Lamentations and Ruth known as “Targum.” He has also written extensively on the topic of suffering and grace. Brady is a faculty member in the department of Modern & Classical Languages, Literatures & Cultures and is dean of the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky. Prior to that he was dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State from 2006-2016, director of the Honors Program (2003-2006) and the Jewish Studies Program (1998-2003) at Tulane University. He is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.