|St. Peter Faber, S.J.
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8, 11
Recently this summer, I was faced with a very difficult decision, probably the most difficult of my professional life. It involved long-held loyalties and dedications, serious commitments and concerns, and obvious ramifications for friends and family. So thorny was the issue that I delayed the decision for a while, until I could break away from the distractions of daily life and make my annual retreat. Three days alone in an old, refurbished former Lutheran parsonage, surrounded on three sides by a sea of Iowa corn, listening to the gentle breezes that rustled through the stalks as if they were the presence of God in my life and the sound of His voice in my heartóand I had my answer. Since delivering it, however, Iíve been restless about it, wondering if Iíve let somebody down or somehow failed in my duty. Wasnít there supposed to be some peace at the end of this process?
Todayís first reading, from the Book of Exodus, helps me out. It describes Moses building a Dwelling for the ark of the commandments. Each step of the construction, the covering and the placement of the ark in the Dwelling are done exactly as God commanded, exactly as God wanted. With God present in the Dwelling, living amid the Israelites, He became their guide from that time forward, in the form of a cloud, signaling them when to go forward and when to stay put. And so it happened for years to come, as the Jews wandered in search of the Promised Land.
This story of the Exodus speaks to me also as a prescription for making the decisions of life, both momentous and momentary. The first requirement is to understand that a loving God wants to be with me on my journey. Thus, I humbly invite Him in, recognize and appreciate His presence there, and then listen to the guidance that He constantly provides. It may not be in the form of a cloud, but if I trust in Him, itís there. And it is clear what I should choose.
After following this procedure in my own stumbling fashion, what
I failed to keep in mindóand thus my ensuing uneaseówas that the Israelites
didnít reach the Promised Land the next day, but rather trudged on for
years, faithfully following Godís directions, despite the hardships and
frustrations involved. My prayer today, then, is to recall and be
thankful for Godís willingness to be with me on my own life journey, to
listen to His counsel as I make my daily decisions, to accept that Godís
way is usually not the most comfortable one and to take another step forward.
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