The unclear way

by Marjorie George 

When Haley Bankey joined the staff at St. George Episcopal Church in San Antonio, she knew she was stepping out and taking on a new ministry.  On her very first day of work, at a staff retreat, Haley wrote this prayer.

Lord, please walk with me on my new path,
Help me where I am weak,

and push me where I am strong.
Temper my enthusiasm with the ability
to seek counsel in others.
Allow me the strength of knowing
when I am right.
Remind me that my words and my actions
should say the same thing.
Give me the patience to deal with all types of people
and all types of situations.
Lead me toward a better understanding
of your church so that I may better help your people.
Open the eyes of the rigid so that I may truly
make a difference;
And open my eyes to other opinions and insight.
Bless me in this ministry that I may find myself
through your eyes and heart.

Haley says she knew she had been drawn to a new ministry not only for the purpose of growing her own faith but also for helping others grow in their faith. The prayer sits on her desk to this day.

I am reminded of the prayer attributed to Thomas Merton*  in which he confesses that often he does not know where he is going, cannot see the road ahead, has no idea where it will end, and isn’t even all that good at trusting God along the way. Merton adds, however, “But I believe this: that the desire to please you does in fact, please you . . . And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may not know it at the time.”

Both Haley and Merton speak of acknowledging a sense of newness and being willing to follow that nudge without a lot of assurance as to where it is leading.

That’s the thing about revelation – we get the beginning; we don’t always see the ending. And that makes some of us squirm. We tend to like our revelation fully packaged, loose ends all tucked in, with full instructions for assembly at home. When we think of revelation, we think of the end of the Easter story: the battle is over and Christ has won. Carry on.

We don’t like risk. We only bet on sure things, if we bet at all (Everyone who has never been to Vegas and never intends to go, step over here with me.) We might actually have been the guy in the parable of the talents who dug a hole and put his money into the ground rather than risk investing it. (See Matthew 25:14-28). But we know how that worked out.

But note well that the promise of the revelation manifested in the Incarnation and the Epiphany to the Magi is a promise that God has come to dwell among us. It is a promise about not having to go it alone. About a little discomfort along the way, the Great One is silent. Or even a lot of discomfort along the way.

The revelation is a starting point. “Come,” says the Christ to us. “Be willing to follow where I lead. You may have to lay down those plans you are clutching so tightly; you may have to abandon some things and even some people you once relied on. The path will not always be clear, and sometimes you will only see one step ahead of you. But you can make the whole journey that way.”

“Lord, please walk with me on my new path,” says Haley Bankey. “I am not sure where I am going,” says Thomas Merton.

Can we join them, anyway? Step right here . . .

 

Marjorie George is editor of Reflections magazine and ReflectionsOnline.

Reach her at marjorie.george@dwtx.org

*Dear God
I am not sure where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead.
I cannot be certain where it will end.
I do not really know myself.
Sometimes I fool myself
Pretending to follow your will,
Yet knowing I am not.
But I believe this
That the desire to please you
Does, in fact, please you.
I hope I have that desire
In everything I do.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may not know it at the time.
Therefore I will trust you always,
And when I may seem to be lost,
I will never be afraid.
Because I know you will never leave me
To face my troubles alone.
Thank you, dear God,
For all you have given me
For all you have taken from me,
For all you have left me. Amen.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The unclear way”

  1. As a sister Vegas-No-Go, I plead guilty of the temptation to bury the treasure. You invite us ever so gently to open ourselves to the risk of freedom, trust, obedience! Thank you.

    The Merton Prayer is almost a daily mantra for me. His beautiful picture of trust is a welcome, constant reminder!!! Thanks for your faithful wisdom, Marjorie!

  2. Yes, thanks to Marjorie, and Haley, what a beautiful prayer. Thank you for sharing it and hope you don’t mind but I’m borrowing it for my desk as w ell.

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