It is comfortable for us to think about the ideal life as one that moves in a straight line–no bumps, no turns, no dead-ends. It is comfortable for us to think that God has some sort of grand plan for our lives and that God then leads us down this straight, narrow road to get to the glorious end. Really? Do you really think that’s it? I mean, think about it, would you have traded some of the “bumps” and twists in your life’s pathway? Would you give up who you are today for walking through those? And what if your life HAD continued down one of the roads on which you started? Where would you be today?
I’m not really convinced anymore that God lays out some road on which I am to walk. (I suppose some of you would say that’s the reason I wander off of it as much as I do!) After all, there’s that free will thing. If there was one road for each of us and we then chose to wander from that road or just detour around part of it or if we ended up on someone else’s road altogether, would we then be a failure in God’s eyes? Would we have messed up God’s perfect pre-ordained plan? Nah…I don’t think that’s the way God works.
I think that God does have a plan, a plan that brings us to a place where we encounter God, to a place where all of who we are–our gifts, our talents, our minds, our hearts, those things we’ve learned and those things we made up on our own, those mistakes and those choices that we’ve made in our lives–comes together into who God calls us to be. But I don’t think there is one pre-determined road down which we are required to travel to make that happen. God is much more grace-filled than that! When we wander from the road on which we’re traveling, when we cut our own path through life, and even when we follow others on a well-worn route, God, with infinite mercy and wisdom does not pull us back to the center of our road; rather, God moves the path itself and continues journeying with us. There’s always a Plan B.
God has done this before. I have a hard time buying in to the idea of God sending Jesus to this earth specifically to die a painful and horrific death just so we slackers could have eternal life. I hate the thought of Jesus’ sole mission on this earth being born to die. Oh, don’t get me wrong–the eternal life thing was God’s purpose. God had that in mind all along; in fact, God had that in mind from the very beginning of Creation. We just didn’t get it. So God came and walked this earth, Emmanuel, God with us, to show us the Way, to show us that at the end was the beginning. I don’t think it went completely as planned. (Oh, really now, does life EVER go completely as planned?) Instead of embracing the Way, humanity put an end to it, hanging it on a cross and walking away. But God, with infinite mercy and wisdom, did something different. God took the end that we handed God and recreated it into a beginning. There’s always a Plan B.
In this Lenten season, we’ve talked a lot about roads and pathways. Maybe Lent is the time to realize that the end of the road is always the beginning, so the purpose of the journey is the journey. Maybe that’s a good Plan B.
It may be that when we no longer known what to do, we have come to our real work. And when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. (Wendell Berry)
Grace and Peace,