Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
This last year has been very difficult for Grace. There has been deep pain. There is uncertainty as we search for a new rector. There are all of the ordinary stresses of any active parish. There have been changes of leadership. There has been both growth and stress within important ministries of the church.
During times of pain, uncertainty, and stress, it is very easy to lose our sense of God’s presence and guidance. We quickly concentrate our attention on the problems we face, often feeling that it is up to us to solve the problems. We are often tempted to act without thinking or listening. We know that God has promised to always be with us, but our attention is drawn away. We are easily distracted by the noise of the world around us.
When we face periods of pain, uncertainty, and stress, we can become overwhelmed and question if God actually cares. The problems can be so present to us, that it is difficult for us to be aware of God’s presence in the situation.
In the church it is so very easy to simply begin to act out of habit and routine. This is what we do today and this is how we always do this. We face each day with our to do list. Much of the business of the church can begin to simply be business. We separate the “religious” parts from the ordinary day to day business. God is in the sacraments and services, but we can very easily leave him there.
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to us as our guide and comforter. The Holy Spirit is Jesus with us, and most astoundingly, Jesus in us. We are not alone! As individuals and as a community of believers we do not need to face our difficulties alone. Both as individuals and as a community we have a guide and a companion.
The words from Isaiah were spoken to the children of Israel following their exile in a foreign land and after a period of time when they had experienced a long separation from God. It is a promise both for them, and for us, because it also speaks to the present time. Right behind you a voice will say “This is the way you should go.” In this coming year I challenge you to listen, to resist being more aware of the problems than God’s presence. To be open to God’s presence in all that we do, not only in the “religious” parts. To never go about the business of the church as if it were just business. Open your hearts to God’s guidance. Right behind you a voice will say,“This is the way you should go,”whether to the right or to the left.