Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 347: Zephaniah 3; Psalm 132; Mark 10

Setting Our Faces Toward Jerusalem
As we know in our corner of
God's world, sometimes the best route is not the shortest route...
We live in New Jersey. In the area we reside, the density of people, towns, roads, highways and by-ways is profound. Getting from one place to another requires some thought, and you have to rely on experience (and often the guidance of friends and colleagues) to transit with as much alacrity as possible in order to arrive at your intended destination. The rub? Often the most direct route is not always the most successful. Sometimes, the more timely path is the one that takes you on a more circuitous route. On top of that, the best routes vary during the time of day. Some ways that are free and clear at one hour become impassable at others. That's easy enough to understand when you live here. It's harder to explain to folks who have just arrived from other parts of the world.


So, the big question: How do we get where we wan to go? Particularly, if we wish to arrive at the place and time where the kingdom of God begins, then on what way are we to rely in order to get there?

That is a tough question to answer. Try asking five different people how they get from point A to point B in my neighborhood...you will get five different answers. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone relies on the experiences of those they have known who have gone before...and those folks had their opinions. How are we going to navigate our way through all these accretions of wisdom? Who is going to show us the way?

It would be easy to just simply say, "Jesus." But, I am sure you realize, it is more complicated than that simple assertion. Yes, Jesus. Yet, what will you do when you ask the way, and he then tells you something that you were not expecting (and perhaps note desirous) of hearing?

We all want to get there, just like the rich young man. We have done our best to be good, to be faithful, to keep up a faithful and kingdom-oriented practice...and yet, according to Jesus, we still lack one thing. There is one key to getting into the right groove, onto the correct route: Give it all up, give it all away, release our stake in the world and then get up and follow him. To Jerusalem. To the cross...and, beyond....

Are you hesitating yet? I am. Jesus doesn't tell the young man to give up some of it. He tells him to to give it ALL up. To release all attachments and to ultimately focus on the way itself is demanding. It's easier for a camel to fit through the Needle, fully loaded, than for someone with all those attachments to get into the kingdom. Oy.

Still, there is hope. If we are willing to wait on God, to open ourselves up to to way that Jesus is beckoning us toward, to drink from his cup as Jame and John ask, to see renewed sight as Bartimaeus did, to wait on our the fulfillment of our own comfort as David did in the psalms...to do all that, then perhaps we can discern a way forward.

It takes patience. It takes prayer. It takes a generous heart. It takes a willingness to admit we might not be as certain as we thought of the way to the place we want to go.

There is one last kernel of advice I have for learning how to navigate our area of New Jersey...be willing to have your way not  turn out to be the way. It might turn out that the path you were so certain of yesterday is not as viable as one that presents itself to you today. It takes a willingness to let go of certainty, and a willingness to rest in the possibilities of what God offers in the present moment to find our way to Jerusalem, the heavenly kingdom or even....Trenton.

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