Monday, November 16, 2009

The Road Not Chosen

We’ve previously read about and thought about the importance of prayer, and asking God to be with us in our journey through life. We need his constant guidance to help us stay the course, get past all the lures of this world, and avoid the deep traps of sin. The thoughts we’ve dwelled on thus far have always viewed us, through our free will, as being at the wheel, with God along as our invited passenger. We gain comfort from knowing that we are in control, but we are not alone.

But what of the times when we are not in control? What about when our life goes down a course we did not choose, but we can’t avoid? My own thoughts when this occurs are ones of panic: I hold the steering wheel tighter; I steer to avoid the worst potholes and oncoming traffic; and yes, I pray.

I want to get control of things again. I NEED to get control again.

You and I have been in that situation, perhaps even now: caring for the elderly parent, living with the fallen spouse, or caring for the autistic child. Maybe even, continuing in the vocation we chose for our life, but now have some regrets. Living a life not really of our choosing (or at least wondering if we would choose it today, if we could do it over), but despite our perceived burdens, honoring our pledge to God and those we love. Year after year -- after year -- our commitment goes on. This is a road you did not choose; this is a sin you did not commit, yet sometimes wonder why it seems you are being punished.

What now of the image of you, going down this bumpy road in your life, and Christ your passenger? Why does he seem to offer no advice, as if he’s sleeping while we wearily go on? We thought he’d help us keep to the straight and narrow way, but this seems like some kind of detour, a rough road we WILL commit to continue on, but secretly look forward to a smoother stretch. When will our life get easier?

Perhaps, never.

That’s a hard thing to contemplate, that this rough road IS our life. We look at others and wonder why, or if, we might not enjoy life as they live, even if only for a short while.

There is so much which can be said about no one having a smooth road of life, “everyone goes through bumps – that’s life”. There’s so much could be said about “you think this is bad, you should see what God is saving you from.” You’ve probably thought about those things, but especially on some of the very bad days, that doesn’t seem to help at all.

I understand.

Recently I spoke with a priest friend about the times when he, or I, am addressed by a friend with a very serious problem, for which no words of charity or empathy seem appropriate. I said that I look up at a nearby crucifix and silently ask: “What do you want me to say?” He remarked: “Sometimes the best friend in especially difficult situations is the one that can just listen.”

We need to remember that God IS our best friend. As we travel through the roughest roads, he IS there with us. We might wish some form of relief of our plight, of our anxieties, but for reasons that only he knows, we ARE on the right road, albeit a difficult one.

And he is with us. While we steer around all the even worse events, it is a comfort to know that we are not in this trial alone. Gain that comfort. Remember: He IS with us.

He is with us.

Lord Jesus, when times are difficult, be with me.
Hold my hand. Listen to my sorrows. Dry my tears.
And Jesus, be with me. Be with me.

Who from our mothers’ arms, has blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this gracious God, through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts, and blessed peace to cheer us;
Preserve us in his grace, and guide us in distress,
And free us from all sin, till heaven we possess.
Now Thank We All Our God (Hymn, source unknown)

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