Life does not come with color-coded road maps and Google or Mapquest directions. We have many choices to make along the way and can feel weak and inadequate relying on our own assessments. We are not alone. Many great thinkers and those perceived as wise spiritual leaders have experienced such struggles common to the human condition. Take heart.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton
And from another source, who knew what it was to be both confident and sure of himself and later - after an encounter with the risen Christ - confidently assured of God's Presence, we read:
The apostle Paul traveled to Rome, a magnificent city in his day, though he saw it from a prison cell where he wrote, according to some scholars, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon between 61 and 63 A.D, a few years before his death. Thomas Merton, whose life, too, reveals wide swings in his search for identity and calling, intersected the streets of Rome in about 1933 during his stay there. These two very different people present honest searching and multiple attempts at 'theological correctness' as prevalent in their time as in ours.They changed their minds about what they held to be true and recanted or divested themselves of a former position in favor of a latter. Each moved from strict unbelief to a deep, abiding consciousness to the reality of Christ's coming into the world. Criticism and upheaval accompanied their journeys along the way; theirs were not stories of neat, tidy lives walking rose-strewn paths.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for
my strength is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
May we be willing to cast off anything - habits, traditions, public opinion - anything that holds us back from hearing a still small voice in our search for truth, in our quest for God's moving in our lives. We need encouragement to live boldly, proclaiming a word of witness, in a world as fascinated with the idols of our time just as those in ancient Rome. We each have to walk it one step at a time.