When you are lost, how likely are you to ask for directions?
I don’t ever remember being lost while growing up. But something must have triggered the fear of being lost in me, so much so that long before I could drive, long before even my older brothers could drive, I paid attention to directions, learning how to get from point A to point B. So much so, that when my older brothers started to drive, they would ask me for directions on how to get to the various places they needed to go. And I always knew how to get there. Long before Garmins and Tom Tom’s and Google Maps, my brother’s had me. And I would get them where they needed to go.
That was a great skill to have on the streets of St. Louis county. But not such a great skill in the spiritual life. Because I got used to not needing to ask for direction. Not needing to rely on anyone except my own innate sense of direction. I had what I needed to be self sufficient (at least I thought) [tap head] right here.
So, it has always been a little disconcerting to pray into this passage from John’s gospel where the disciples ‘ask for directions.’ “Don’t you know?” my mind always wanted to ask the disciples. The way is always giving your life in service. The truth is always sacrificial love. The life is always found by surrender to God. Why do you even need to ask?
Thirty four years ago, as I tried to pin down HOW I would live service and sacrificial love and surrender, I realized that just knowing those truths were not enough to help me decide if I was being called to the priesthood or not. There is a level of discernment that has to happen to REALLY hear where you are called to go. And it took a lot of listening for that to become clear to me. Even though I knew ‘what’ I had to do – to find the way to give my life away, the direction was not so clear. Discernment, really listening takes hard work.
For example, last weekend was an amazing weekend here at St. Justin.
- Over 350 people gave over 1100 hours of service.
- 40 volunteers served at 11 different homes in our community.
- More than 600 sandwiches, trail mix, water and fruit packs were prepared and delivered to 3 different organizations who serve the homeless or provide food to those in need
- 20 home-bound parishioners were visited and given homemade bread and decorated pots from our youngest volunteers
- More than 80 flower pots were painted, planted and given to those in our community
- An entire moving truck was filled for donations to St. Vincent De Paul
- 44 fleece blankets were hand made for the Mary Culver Home, Room at the Inn and a children’s organization.
- And the grounds got a complete makeover.
All of that is an amazing display of listening to Jesus as he calls us to service and sacrifice and self emptying love. But it does not answer the question most asked last Saturday evening: “What is next? What is next for us as members of St. Justin Martyr parish?” And like Philip, like most men, and unlike my growing up years, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for directions, not to a physical space (I got that part) but to the place Jesus is preparing four our parish to go to in the days and weeks to come.
But here is the good news about that. We don’t have to create that space. Jesus has done that already. He has already gone before us to create that space. All we have to do is listen to ‘HOW’ he is inviting to be about surrender and sacrifice and self emptying love.
So I invite you to join me in asking God for directions. Join Peter and Philip and all those brave men and women who have had the courage over the course of the years to recognize that they needed directions – they needed to learn how to listen to the voice of God that calls them, not just as individuals, but as a community.
These next few weeks and months ahead – ask the question that Philip asked: Show us the way to the Father, and that will be enough for us. And then let me/Fr. Johnson/the Faith in Action team know what you are hearing from the one who is the way and the truth and the life.