Exit here…

I missed my exit on the freeway yesterday. It was near the new section where I-69 and 435 intersect. You know the one. I’ve been on almost all of the new exit ramps at least once since they were opened so it was not as if it was brand new territory for me. I thought I had been on that stretch enough times that I could easily drift into the desired lane at the right time and make my connection.  

But somehow I was just not alert enough to notice when I should have been steering into the right lane, so I missed the turn and went WAY out of my way to get back on track. In fact, as I thought a little more about my wrong turn I came to realize that if this had been my first time traveling on that stretch of road I probably would have been paying a little bit more attention.

            And then – as I found myself with a lot of extra driving time on my hands – I began to wonder if there might be some parallels between my encounter on the highway and life in the world of the spirit. Surprisingly, I decided that yes… there are some parallels. In the very early stages of the journey we are eager, alert, eyes wide open, making note of every dip and turn in the “road.” We are hyper-alert to our surroundings and not likely to miss our “exit.”

            On the other end of the continuum – the very experienced end – we enjoy a similar level of clarity. We have been down this road many times. We are intimately familiar with the contours and rise and fall of the land, the light places and the dark corners. We thrill to traverse the holy ground and allow it to unveil its secrets to us.

            In both the world of car travel as well as the world of the spiritual journey, it may well be that the most treacherous times are those “middle” stages of experience. You know how it goes… we have been over this terrain. It is familiar. We feel comfortable with the landscape and so relax our vigilance.

            And that is when it happens… that is when we are most likely to take a wrong turn and get lost.

            There are many times when I feel like I am in those middle stages of my spiritual journey: a long, long way from being the “deeply committed Christian” I seek to be and yet not a total novice either. My goal is to continue maturing, developing, and growing.

But I have to admit… sometimes I get lazy. Sometimes I get busy and skip one devotion time… and then another. In my haste I neglect to pray the Wesley Covenant Prayer and encounter its tender reminder that, “I am no longer my own but Thine.” In that state I begin to worry more about whether I am receiving enough… enough pay, enough credit, enough attention, enough love, enough whatever… instead of whether I am giving enough.  

Feeling familiar and satisfied in the life of the spirit is one of our surest “exit ramps” from our travel along God’s path. And the sad part of it is, we might not even know we left the road.

Diana Butler Bass, in her recent book Christianity After Religion, reminds us that… “’Who am I in God?’ is a starting point of Christian spirituality. Why do Christians pray? Christians do not pray to have wishes granted; rather, Christians pray to find themselves in God and that they might be more aware of their motives and actions.” (Bass, Christianity After Religion, p. 187).

We each need a little wake up call now and then to remind us of the preciousness of every moment and the power of that moment to reveal God’s presence and power. Today, even though it is my “day off,” I begin by asking God to help me stay awake and alert and not miss the turns He wants me to make.

Will you join me in that same prayer?

3 Responses to “Exit here…”

  1. October 9, 2021 at 7:53 am

    I begin by asking God to help me stay awake and alert and not miss the turns He wants me to make.

    Will you join me in that same prayer?

    Russ/ Rev/ revruss1220*, upon reaching the end of your post here, I realized that my mind had been wandering throughout it, though I’d tried to drag my focus back. And so, I forced myself to re-read it, paying more attention to your words. They’re good ones, and I thank you for them.

    You know I don’t believe in your God. And yet, I’m pretty sure that you would say that He works in mysterious ways, and always with a purpose. I arrived at this post on a ?random visit, and can’t deny that I wonder whether, perhaps, there was some guiding force at work here.

    So, while I can’t address your prayer to a specific individual, I will certainly join you in endeavouring to be more attentive and in tune with the moment.

    * I never quite know how to address you, my friend… I certainly don’t like that last moniker of the three, as I’ve always felt that all of us are more than mere numbers.

    • October 11, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks for stopping in. I know your position on the existence of God and appreciate that you are willing to engage with my blatantly God-centric blog anyway. Despite your profession of atheism, you don’t seem to disdain the notion of “unseen forces” at work in the universe and in human history. Maybe our disconnect is just in how you and I name and relate to those unseen forces. And since you asked, “Russell” is my preferred handle.

      • October 11, 2021 at 8:20 pm

        Excellent, Russell! 🙂 I enjoy reading your ‘blatantly God-centric blog’; I find that its pages contain much thought-provoking content, and a great deal of wisdom.

        I’m well aware that we puny humans have, at best, a tenuous grasp on this thing we call ‘reality’. I don’t disdain ‘unseen forces’ at all; I have no more proof of their non-existence than I have of your God (or any of the other myriad of ‘one true gods’ that various groups of our species believes in, for that matter).

        I’m fascinated by astronomy, totally in awe of the immensity of the Universe, and find it easy to grasp that our fragile egos struggle with accepting that our species is in no way special, nor particularly important in the Grand Scheme of Things.

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