Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lead, Kindly Light

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A wise man taught me a dangerous prayer: “Lord, whatever you ask me to do, I will do.”

That was a little over 20 years ago. I have prayed that prayer many times. It can be scary. It requires trust, an awful lot more than I usually want to give. It requires faith, more than I sometimes have. But it’s led me on quite a journey.

As I prayed, I felt God responding, moving my heart, guiding my desires. He asked me to leave home, family, and friends, and enter the seminary. I did. He asked me to leave that community, my new family and friends, and come home. I did. He asked me to leave the seminary, and with it the life I knew. I started getting rather confused by all this, but I did. He asked me to marry Jane and raise a family. I did. Turns out I’m not so great at this part, but here I am.

The tricky part is: I like knowing where I am, where I’m going, and what the next steps to get there are. I don’t like to travel without at map (and usually several backups). I like to plan ahead. I like to feel like I’m in control, at least a bit.

When I first entered the seminary, I thought I knew where my life was going. When I came home, I thought I understood the new path I was on. When I left the seminary, I started to realize that he wasn’t going to show me the path. I learned that he would instead guide me step by step (No, not that Step By Step.)

Bl. John Henry Newman wrote a poem, The Pillar of the Cloud, which begins:

LEAD, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
          Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
          Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I do not ask to see the distant scene: one step enough for me. That’s become a bit of a mantra for me, and I frequently need to remind myself of it. I still want to know the whole path. But I don’t know it, and I won’t until I get there, wherever there is.

It’s frustrating sometimes, not knowing. It can be terrifying. It’s stressful, at least it is when I hold on that desire to know, to plan, to control. But it’s also been freeing. When I am able to trust, it brings peace. I know that God has a good plan for me, and he’s guiding me to abundant life and joy.

I don’t know where my path will lead. But I don’t need to know. One step enough for me.

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