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 that 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 am 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 know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem
to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
— Thomas Merton (Thoughts in Solitude)
You may resonate with these words of Thomas Merton. The predictable has been replaced with the uncertain. We’ve been forced out of our comfort zone into the groan zone where we have been forced to figure out how to life and lead in new ways.
I’m in brand new territory after saying goodbye to my wife Vicky after 36 wonderful years together. I don’t see too far ahead these days but I know who holds my hand and is guiding me each step of the way. I’ve been strengthened by the consolation of empathetic friends, the wisdom found in good books (including God’s Word), and the passage of time.
When I think of the times we live in, our response doesn't need to be distress and worry. It can be the very circumstances that push us closer to God in dependence. Change can also stir up our God infused imagination that will help us solve problems and learn to work in new ways. These may be the very fires of affliction that God will use to refine us and shape us into even greater Christ-like character.
A translation I’ve grown to appreciate lately is The Passion Translation. When I read Psalm 32 the other day, I felt new energy coursing threw my veins. God’s Word inspires hope because it gives us a future expectation and a pathway to get there.
May our adversity not derail us from the purpose God has for us or distract us from helping the people he wants us to serve. I believe you want to grow through the struggle, not shrink back because of the struggle.
Psalm 32:8-9 in The Passion Transition reads like this:
I hear the Lord saying,
“I will stay close to you,
instructing and guiding you along
the pathway for your life.
I will advise you along the way and lead you forth
with my eyes as your guide.
So don’t make it difficult;
don’t be stubborn when I take you
where you’ve not been before.
Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.
Just come with me!”
Here is my prayer that expresses what I want to say to the Lord. I trust it strikes a chord with you and puts into words what you can pray when you don't know where you are going.
Lord, we do not know where we are going,
But that is OK because You do.
In our weakness, be our strength.
So much has shifted in our lives;
The things we controlled are now out of control.
Give us new insight and wisdom to handle the change.
People have experienced loss on so many levels;
Jobs, dreams, finances, loved ones, security, and the way things were.
Church communities are struggling to stay connected,
People are wanting to go back to the life they knew,
But things may never be quite the same again.
Help us to be like wet clay in the Potter’s hand,
To cooperate with the molding You want to do in our lives.
The good news is — You have been here before;
You have been where we are and where we are going.
Remind us today how fond You are of us,
Renew us today by Your presence,
Recharge us today with your promises.
What have you been learning these past few months?
What has God been saying to you?