by Rebecca Kagaris
As I sit and reflect on the last two months, only one thing comes to mind. The title of the second album of the popular rock group The Grateful Dead from 1977, “What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been!” Truly the world has never witnessed such a comprehensive alteration of life as we know it unless it has been a World War or a more concentrated local disaster.
I’m sure many of us have had our ups and downs about the situation. At times, worry or anxiety about finances, career, health or the future may have dominated or thoughts. Yet, at other moments the serenity, peace and calm of this new lifestyle may have left us with a profound sense of finding our true selves again or finding clarity and relaxation that we only vaguely remember from many years past. Either way, uncertainty looms large. When will this all end? Will we ever be back to normal? Will the accommodations we have made with technology change the way we do life from here on out? Will we always have to keep a Sam’s size stockpile of toilet paper in our house, a box of construction masks, and a month’s supply of tuna and canned goods just to feel secure?
One thing is for sure, “The only way forward is the way through.” I love this quote and we can use it for just about any difficulty, crisis or complication we may encounter in our lives. We are not God and unfortunately not many of us have acquired the spiritual gift of clairvoyance to know the future! Instead, we all must walk out each day with the truth that God provides for us. He is our sustenance and with Him we can walk through literally any difficulty-even the Red Sea-and not get wet!
In the Book of Exodus, we read in the Bible that the Israelites were to traverse the harsh and unpredictable desert by keeping in communion with the Presence of God. They did not do this perfectly and neither will we. But, we have this sustenance available to us. God’s loving care and indispensable guidance were revealed to them in the “cloud by day and the fire by night.” His tangible protection and direction enabled them to travel either by day or by night, depending on the circumstances. (Exodus 13:21) We, too, can courageously live our lives under the difficult conditions that we find ourselves in by being filled with God's Presence each morning and each evening.
I remember one hot summer working on an archaeological dig in the Middle East in the desert of the country of Jordan. Common items that we often found buried in the hard, sandy rock were ancient clay lamps. Now these lamps weren’t big bright LED fog lights. They were simple handmade oil lamps that could fit in the palm of your hand. These were the lamps of everyday people and for everyday uses. As soon as we first unearthed one of these little lamps I was intuitively reminded of the Scripture from Psalm 119 “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” With the archaeological evidence from the time period, I was now able to more fully understand the image that the Israelites would have culturally understood. That little daily lamp radiates about enough light to see right in front of your next footstep!
God is not necessarily going to blast us with Cardinal stadium lighting so we can see every inch of the entire downtown perfectly. We will not be able to see our whole life and future unfold before our very eyes. Instead, as we walk with Him, our path gradually and appropriately unfolds as we take each step in sync with His guidance and illumination. So we can take heart and trust what is written in the book of Isaiah chapter 45, “I will go before you and make your crooked places straight.” God will smooth out this crooked path we may find currently find ourselves walking on as we stay encouraged and faithful to Him. Yes, many things seem very disoriented and skewed right now from what we are normally used to, but with God we can rest in His daily Providence and Direction and stay faithful to the plan we already know: Love God and love our neighbor. Our journey will unfold according to God’s good wisdom as we “endure to the end” of this global pandemic.
So be bold in love, faithfulness, peace, encouragement, and prayer during this time.
For as St. Augustine said, “Go forth on your path as it exists only through your walking.”
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