Thomas Merton wrote the following:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I’m doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.”
I resonate with Merton on this. You recall the Apostle Paul once saying “I know what the right thing is, I just don’t always do it . . .” That sounds like a similar sentiment to me.
Here in the season of Lent, we are being asked to take inventory of our lives. To ask hard questions about what we love and what we don’t. Who we forgive and who we don’t. What we are doing to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and what we are leaving undone.
I wonder sometimes if some of us don’t get a bit paralyzed trying to make sense out of all of it? As if we can’t move in any direction until we have the entire journey mapped out? Which typically leaves us mostly spinning or running in place—expending a lot of energy, but ultimately getting nowhere.
I heard a colleague this week talking about his church and the fact that his church is at an important crossroads for their future. He confessed that a lot of his folks seemed to be in that “stuck” place of wanting to know the whole future before launching the trip. Then he said something that struck me as particularly wise: he said, “I think it’s like driving your car at night across the country. You can never see further in front of you than the reach of your headlights. That might not seem very far, but in reality that’s as far as you need to see at any given time. You can make the journey across thousands of miles just that way—by going as far as your headlights allow you to see right now.
Living a life of faith mostly means living in and embracing the “now.” Spending too much time wondering where the journey ends mostly means missing all the wonderful sights along the way.
The musical “Jesus Christ, Superstar” had a real impact on me. It came at the “right time” in the life of a 16 year old. I can never forget one of the more poignant songs in that musical, sung by Judas Iscariot’s character, titled “Too Much Heaven On Their Minds.” What happens in the end is already in the hands of a God who loves us. What God needs from us is to reconcile THIS world to Him.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.