The Road Ahead

Chris closed our Sunday school class this morning by reading this prayer of Thomas Merton’s:

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 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 may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will 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.

This prayer really spoke to me. I love how it starts: “I have no idea where I’m going”. What a humble way to approach God and the spiritual path! I try to remember that I have no idea where I’m going. Sometimes this lack of knowledge is only too obvious, but sometimes I get cocky (you know, because I’m managing things so well) and I forget that I am not the one in control; that when I try to take control, things usually go horribly awry. Time and time again, God has led me by the right road, even when it didn’t look like such an appealing road at first.

At the close of the day, I received the sad news that a close friend of ours shot and killed himself on Saturday morning. This was the father of a childhood friend of mine, a family that I grew up with and spent many summer vacations with. The news of this was so unexpected and shocking, the more so because this man seemed so full of joy the last time we stayed with them, and so content with his place in the world.

As I reflect back on Merton’s prayer after the news of this tragedy, I respond to it in a new way. I remember all of the long stretches in my life when I was lost and living in the shadow of death, a time when I was enslaved by addictions and consumed with fear. I’m filled with gratitude for the life I live today, and compassion for those who are filled with pain and just barely hanging on. I wonder how I ever got from where I was then to where I am now, and the only thing I can come up with is grace. Grace and a lot of strangers who understood the life I’d been living and yet loved me anyway. I remember how cut off and alone I felt in those years, and I pray that I continue to have the desire to live in God’s will, because that humility (and those strangers) have proven to be my life line.

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~ by jenzai on May 11, 2008.

One Response to “The Road Ahead”

  1. okay, so i have wandered this way somehow…just knowing that my first stop was annamarie’s.

    thank you, too, for these words. thank you for speaking my heart.

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