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The Way Forward

  • Posted on Aug 15, 2012

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  John 6

How do you find the way forward?  How are you fed on the way?  What if you can’t find the way any longer?  What if you have lost your way?

In the lectionary passages the past few weeks, we have been following King David and his unsavory mischief with Bathsheeba and her husband Uriah the Hittite.  We’ve also seen David admit that his way with Bathsheeba and Uriah was not the way forward, not the way to lead.  We’ve also been following Jesus and his disciples and witnessed again the feeding of the 5,000.  The very next day after the miraculous feeding, the disciples as well as the crowds following Jesus begin to ask for signs such as manna from heaven in order to believe in Jesus.  This just after the miracle of the loaves and fishes!

When we lose our way in life, we often begin to grasp at whatever we think will end the anxiety of the moment.  We seek quick fixes to fill our spiritual hunger.  We grasp at relationships.  We often grasp at food or drink.  We grasp for new or better possessions.  In the end, these things do not satisfy.  What satisfies is true spiritual bread.  And we forget again and again that the spiritual bread of life comes to us–indeed is all around us. The true bread comes to us….we have no need to grasp.

In her recent book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, Martha Beck tells the story of the Polynesian wayfinder named Nainoa.  Nainoa sailed a canoe called the HOKULE’A and Nainoa sailed this canoe without modern naivgation equipment.  One day, as Nainoa carried passengers from one island to another, a fog shrouded the ocean.  In a twinkling of an eye, Nainoa realized he had no idea where he was.  Inwardly, he felt despair and anxiety as he realized he was lost in a great ocean.  But then, in another twinkling of an eye, the words of his wise sailing teacher came to him:  “Nainoa, can you see the image of the island in your mind?”  At once, he became calm and realized that HE HAD EVERYTHING ONBOARD HIS SACRED CANOE THAT HE NEEDED.  Within himself, he had the knowledge and wisdom.  All those days of sailing with his teacher came back to him.  Immediately the sky brightened and the clouds cleared as up ahead the island destination appeared.  For Nainoa, the island had come to him.  In a sense, the Hokule’a never moved.  It WAITED.  He WAITED.  He didn’t panic.  Salvation appeared.

In this Olympic time, it is said that Baltimore’s own, Michael Phelps, didn’t know Mark Spitz’s record number of medals when he set out to swim.  He set his own goals from within.  His way forward came each day as he trained.  For Nelson Mandela, during the time he languished in jail for years, each day brought him the grace to live another day.  Each day prepared him just a bit more for his next calling.  Eventually, the dream of freedom came to him as did the leadership of a new South Africa.  Jesus, toiling away in a remote part of the world, walking the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea, the world came to him.  And as the world came to him, he reminded them that God always comes to them.  Each and every day.  To fill our hunger.  To quench our thirst.  All we have to do is be who we are.  No need to grasp at empty relationships and practices.  God is with us always.  In the everyday.  Living who we are in the everyday is the way forward.  And in this everyday living, God is right there.