For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I Corinthians 2:2
“He went out, not knowing where he was going,” says the writer of Hebrews. Abraham, the father of our faith, didn’t have a clue where he was headed, no map, five year plan, or GPS device. Just faith.
Most of us want a little more than simple obedience to the word of the Lord burning in our hearts. We want a backup plan, some insurance policy to guarantee that our wandering about in the dark and hard work will be justified. We do not want to look back in shame or sorrow at the choices we made.
Most of all, when someone asks what our plans are for this year, we want that calm sense of security that comes with being able to answer clearly: My goal for this year is to plant a garden, go to Greece, or graduate from the Neuroscience Institute. You need something with a nice ring, which wins a nod of approval, or even better envy. So we consult a bevy of advisors. How long do I have, Doc? Madame Sylvia looks in her crystal ball. We check our horoscope and give our broker a call.
In our sleepless nights we pray, “God… please… let me know things will be all right.”
Instead of a five year plan in the mail, we get the present moment.
This frayed and tattered now.
My old buddy, Oswald Chambers, writes in his January 2 entry in “My Utmost for His Highest”:
One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, “What do you expect to do?” You do not know what you are going to do. The only thing you know is that God knows what he is doing….. Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what he is going to do – He reveals to you who He is. … You must learn to “go out” through your own convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God.
Wanting to know the future, and to possess absolute clarity about where one is going is the last stronghold of the ego and a defense against intimacy with God, where the way is revealed only as I have surrendered my desire to know anything, except, as St. Paul puts it, “Christ and him crucified.”
We are nearest to God when we have gone out from our egos – our own knowing, our worries, and desires – and are vulnerably present to Holiness. As we become present to the Presence, we discover a relationship so wholesome, nourishing, and tender in its embrace that our notion of direction and purpose is transformed. My life’s direction is not something I grasp by knowing, but rather is given to me as I allow myself to be known in the mutual exchange of love that is our relationship with Christ.
This seeking, palpable, grace filled Presence of Christ is what allows us to go out into the unknown, empty handed and clueless. Jesus told his followers: “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” Luke 9: 3
We learn to trust more in the ever present power of the One who sends us, than in our own preparations. And oh how much easier life becomes then!
How does one do this? Be aware. Allow space in your consciousness for God. Shovel away your lists and agendas, goals and objectives. Make a clear path through the snow drifts of your ego to the great I Am.
This is how I tried to do that today. All morning I prayed in the sunshine pouring through my window. I began with a list. A stream of words and worries that gradually slowed to a trickle. Still in my pajamas and robe at 11:00, I am happy as a clam. Wrapped in love, I do not want to stop.
Often when I pray with others it is like this. Saying amen is a strain; lifting my head and opening my eyes, an effort. The magnetic pull of God captures me. To pull away is a sorrow, a sudden brutal severing from the heart’s true home. But the hour is up, the person who has come for prayer needs to go and is wondering if I am half crazy. So I return to “normal,” which seems ever more strange and artificial to me.
I know. I am weird. I also know many of you share this sense of God drawing you into Love.
I prayed for you this morning, for nothing in particular beyond peace, love, and joy. It is true I may not know you, yet I feel an oceanic rush of love and desire for your well being that hollows me out and leaves me breathless. I think it must be God’s love for you passing through my awareness. I hope it sweeps you off your feet today and tosses you hither and yon without a clue as to where you are going.
And on this cold day may you, beloved object of God’s devotion,
feel His warm breath upon your cheek.
Tell me about your prayer, the love song God is singing to you today.
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