Reactions on the Journey

We may have the sense that this is our journey.  We set aside the time.  We choose to go.  We read.  We pray.  We are doing this!

Before getting too wrapped up in ourselves, though, we need to remember that the destination existed before we were born.  The way was already prepared.  Salvation is by grace.  Faith is a gift.  “We” didn’t do this.  It is simply history going through the process of becoming our story (or perhaps our story going through the process of becoming history…).  To quote one wise old man, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  In making this pilgrimage we are not acting.  We are reacting, just like the generations before us.

There is nothing surprising in this.  It is a theme of humanity.  People are reactionary.  On the darker side of our history, Eve reacted to the serpent.  Adam reacted to Eve.  Cain reacted to Abel.  When God banished him to wander, Cain reacted by complaining that the punishment was too great for him to bear.  All of that happened in just two generations, and it is sad to say the tradition continues today.

We are not doomed to failure, though.  Enoch walked with God.  David was a man after God’s own heart.  Elijah found God in the sound of a whisper.  Saul became Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus.  All of them were reacting.  Instead of reacting to temptation and anger, though, they were reacting to God’s love and power and grace.

In the early 1800s Rev. George Croly was given a challenging assignment to reestablish a congregation in a church that had closed more than a century before.  He could have reacted by quitting or complaining about the unfair task, but he didn’t.  Instead he looked to God and reacted to grace.  He preached the Word.  He served the community.  The church grew.  At age 74 he began a project to prepare a collection of hymns, which included one which is still used today, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.  The words capture our need to react to the presence of the Lord in our lives.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
and make me love thee as I ought to love.

As you continue your pilgrim journey today, ask the Spirit of God to descend on your heart.  Experience the love that God has for you, and react by sharing that love.

Follow the Path!

[Use with Action and Reaction, day 16 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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A Path to Share

We are on a journey to the foot of the cross.  Although this journey may be a unique experience for us as individuals, the journey itself is not unique to us.  Other pilgrims have gone before us.  More will follow behind us.  But today is what we have right now, and today other pilgrims are traveling with us.

With all of these other pilgrims on the journey, we need to learn to manage relationships.  Some pilgrims will influence us.  We will influence some of them.  Sometimes in good ways.  Sometimes not so good.

Cain had problems with relationships.  His relationship with Abel was murderous.  His relationship with his parents wasn’t even mentioned.  The key to it all, though, was his weak relationship with God.  When God first approached Cain about his unhappiness, Cain did not even respond.  Had he listened and spoken with God, it would have affected all of his other relationships.  By shutting God out of his life, Cain doomed himself to life without the love and joy and happiness that only God can bring.

The same is true for each of us.  We must look to God and listen to God.  When that relationship is right, the rest of our relationships can be good.

Charles Wesley wrote Jesus, Lord, We Look to Thee.  Line by line and verse by verse, the hymn lays out the ways that our relationship with God shapes our lives and the ways that we can interact with others around us in a spirit of Christian love and fellowship.

Let us for each other care,
each the other’s burdens bear;
to thy church the pattern give,
show how true believers live.

We are on a journey to the foot of the cross.  It is a path we share with so many others.  Where can we look except to Jesus?  Look to Jesus and find God’s love.  Then share that love along the way.

Follow the Path!

[Use with Relationships Gone Awry, day 15 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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