“Thus says the Lord your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17. NRSV).
Perhaps you have heard this joke. “Why did the People of Israel under Moses wander in the desert for forty years? They forgot to stop and ask for directions.”
What a great invention the GPS is. If you want to go somewhere you have never been, just program the GPS and it will guide you intersection by intersection until you arrive at your desired destination. Yet, even the best GPS has its drawback. If it is an older program, it may not be able to give you information about road construction, a street change or a different obstacle along your route. Some GPSs do not give you the shortest and easiest route. There is another major disadvantage. Unless there is a malfunction in the GPS, we almost never have to ask someone for directions. We rely on a machine, not another human person to assist us. Nor does it allow us to help someone else. Its true that crime and the concern for basic safety can be a hazard. But, it basically gets us off the hook if you will, from welcoming the stranger.
On this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, we commemorate how Jesus through the Holy Spirit brought a life-changing experience to the man named Saul. Once he was knocked off of his horse; Paul had a new direction in his life.
All of us make our plans and begin our journey of a new direction in our life. We gather what we know and think we know it all. We become content in our own little world. We rely on our false-sense of self; based on labels, being happy with everything we have, those who like us the best, who agree with us and feed our egos.
The reading from the Prophet Isaiah that I quoted for this reflection, invites us to contemplate God’s perception of us. God sees in us the potential to go in a direction that is based on seeking union with God with purity of heart. God wants us to bring our brokenness, our being lost in ourselves into union with God’s will; and let God “lead us in the way we should go.” God’s direction for each of us is different. None of us will have the exact same course as another. God invites us to live into who God is from our hearts as our God, our Redeemer, the Holy One. God wants to teach us about our true selves in and from our essence of who we are and “lead us in the way we should go.”
“Listen carefully, my child, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.” (Prologue, RB:1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, p.157).
What are you open to listening to God teach you today?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB