“Here I am moving from point A to point B to point C — in a fog. I turn to God and say, ‘How do I get to point D?’ But God gently replies, ‘Take my hand and I will lead you out of the fog.’
Then I get stubborn and say, ‘You didn’t answer my question!’” (Hugh Prather, Spiritual Notes to Myself)
It’s been a difficult week. In the midst of a difficult year. The hardest part is that people look to me for signs of hope. I’m like the man who went to visit a spiritual guide, and said, “I don’t know what to do with my life. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth the effort. I feel lost. I don’t know how to move forward.”
And the guide said, “The circus is in town and there is a clown who is a part of the show. This clown is so joyful and purposeful. He makes people feel good. He’s full of life. Why don’t you go visit the circus, see the clown in the show.”
And the man answered, “Sir, I am that clown.”
Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? Maybe for you too? We can get so involved in whatever it is we are doing that we get lost in a fog. Sometimes we are so intent on what we are looking for that we miss the thing we actually find.
So, what is a person to do? How can we stay grounded? Centered? How can we get out of the fog? I have become convinced that we are not capable of getting out of the fog on our own. We must be led out of the fog. By one who knows the way.
It’s ironic that some pastors, persons of faith, can become so lost. But it happens. I’ve seen it happen to colleagues who self destruct, burn out, become unfaithful. Perhaps you have seen this as well.
Back to my original question, “What is a person to do?”
All I can share here is what I do. I can’t speak for anyone else. What I offer may not make sense to you. That’s ok. You may not like my way, so it is important that you come up with your own way. I’d like to hear about how you stay grounded and centered. If you haven’t done that yet, then I humbly say I like my way better.
I stay centered in the belief that, apart from God, nothing exists. That the most powerful thing in the whole universe is NOT fear or hate or hopelessness or even death. The greatest power in the universe is love. And love never fails.
I also believe that life isn’t fair. But I also believe that all difficult things will pass. The power of love always finds a way to bring something life-giving out of even the most death-dealing of experiences. Always.
To sum up all of this is to say the worst thing that can happen is never the last thing that happens. Our scriptures say God is love. They also tell us that Good Friday was initially seen as the worst thing that could happen. But then there is Easter.
I believe the power of love is something we can choose to embrace. Love calls us to itself, but we need to answer. Some would say we must surrender to God’s love. This is counterintuitive for many of us, the notion that we give up our freedom to choose in order to experience the freedom of being fully alive. And we are led out of the fog.
Truth is, choosing is easy to do. It is also easy not to do. It’s your choice.
The Rev. Ron Griffen is lead pastor of First United Methodist Church in El Centro.