Grace and Truth: A word from pastorsby Donna Mast
Some people have this marvelous ability to navigate their way through unfamiliar territory. They know at any given moment what direction they are facing and seem to have an innate ability to understand the lay of the land, no matter where they are.
Not so with me. I am more directionally impaired than I care to admit on this printed page.
Growing up in the flatlands of Ohio, I thought I had a pretty good sense of direction. Since living in mountainous territory with winding roads that sometimes go north to go south, I have discovered that I have no sense of direction at all. What I really had, growing up in the flatlands, was an ability to read a grid. And I find myself envious of those who can tell their right hand from their left without having to stop and think about it.
When Global Positioning Systems first came on the market, my husband told me never to buy one for him because it would be an insult to his intelligence. My husband is one of those people I envy. I lack his kind of intelligence.
When I took a second half-time position, I had a bigger problem than envy. This second position frequently takes me into country I have not traveled before, and I am often traveling alone. So I bought myself a GPS. It has given me confidence to make the trips.
Recently I was again traveling on unfamiliar roads, and this time I was in heavy fog as well. Was I ever grateful for my GPS! It told me when I was coming to the next turn, and I could navigate even though I could not see the road until I was upon it.
As I traveled in this strange silence of muted sound and masked visibility, I thought about how it was like traveling this earthly path with God. How often do we come to decision points in our lives and wonder where the path lies? Is God calling me in a new direction? Should I take this route or another?
The Psalms are full of images about God leading us along paths. One example is Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." If the Psalmist were writing today, it might have been written, "Your word is a Magellan to my feet and a Garmin to my path." The Psalmist looked to Holy Law for direction in life. We, too, search the Scriptures and apply them to our lives.
Jesus is also known as The Word. John 1 tells us: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
As Anabaptists, we look closely to the life of Jesus for direction in how to live our lives. Jesus will illumine our paths, if we only allow him to do so.
But we are not dependent solely on Scripture. Jesus promised us the Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Discerning the Spirit's direction sometimes feels like driving in dense fog. Following the Spirit’s direction is made easier if we are listening through prayer, in the company of other Christians and with the words of the Bible in our heads and hearts.
I traveled through the fog for an hour and a half. It should have been an hour, but I was going slower, due to the lack of visibility. I also have to admit that at one point I saw a road that someone had told me was a shortcut, so I took it. My GPS told me to turn around. I didn’t. I just figured it needed time to make the adjustment since I had chosen to take a different route.
When I finally decided to listen to my GPS, I realized that the road I had impulsively taken was a shortcut but not from the point I had decided to jump on it. I had become like the person described in Proverbs 10:17: "Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray."
I eventually turned around and returned to the correct road. I am thankful we serve a God who does not give up on us but sends us signals when we are on the wrong path and welcomes us gladly back onto the right path.
What a relief it was when the fog lifted and I could see farther ahead. As I continue to travel, I know there will be more fog, as well as other conditions that make it difficult to see. That's life. As we journey with God, we do have times of greater and lesser abilities to see the road.
In this new year, may we each travel with God's Word within us, Jesus' example before us, in the company of Christian friends as God's Spirit guides us into the future.
Donna Mast serves half-time as a pastor at Scottdale (Pa.) Mennonite Church and half-time as interim conference minister for Allegheny Mennonite Conference.
- Lawrence Hart's visions of peace
- Life hurts
- The legacy of Mennonite education
- A family affair: Mennonite education includes family members across generations
- Training pastors for the church
- The Underground Railroad story in quilts
News stories, digests and Meno Acontecer
- Goshen College student assaulted
- Ninety leaders of color gather in Tampa
- Soto Albrecht nominated for moderator-elect
- Tucson congregation touched by shooting
- Convention 2013 will be held in Phoenix
- CPT joins IMH in abstaining from Convention 2013 if held in Arizona
- Bluffton's insurers liable in 2007 crash
- Hispanic leaders release letter about Phoenix convention
- Shirk uses her French, Creole to help Haitians
- Mennonite couple opens winery in Virginia
- Top 10 Mennonite Church USA events in 2010
- Churches host art galleries for First Fridays
- Thousands of unique visitors
- South Korean partners pave way of peace
- Young adults hooked on convention
- Oaklawn expands
- Bethel sees greatest enrollment increase
- Prestigious gathering features Mennonite scholars
- Investing in hope: In the name of Jesus
- Seeking direction
- Is the Mennonite church a peace church?
- It's time for a new 'young adult litany'
- Church baby
- Resolve in the new year
- Transforming the world
- Books on trust, worship, Bible, ecology
- January film and book reviews
Births and Marriages