“Your future depends on how you remember your past. Choose for the truth of what you know. Do not let your still anxious emotions distract you. As you keep choosing God, your emotions will gradually give up their rebellion and be converted to the truth in you…. Do not be afraid. You are not alone…. Remember you are held safe. You are loved. You are protected. You are in communion with God and with those whom God has sent you. What is of God will last. It belongs to the eternal life. Choose it, and it will be yours.” Henri Nouwen from The Inner Voice of Love.
Someone shared this quote with me recently and I have been letting it roam around in my heart and mind since I heard it. When we choose God our lives may take turns we didn’t expect or imagine but we will learn and grow in ways that show us, sometimes only in hindsight, what purposes God had in shaking things up. I doubt we will ever know the fullness of how God has used us in the grand plan of Christ’s reign in the world but we do get glimpses once in a while.
It seems so often that the actions in our past, the tangible pieces of our past take precedence over the reasons for taking those actions. To be fair, it can often be easier to remember the actions because their may be pictures, paperwork, evidence that these things happened. But the ways we came to those decisions may have been the result of the gradual, reflective and quiet working of our hearts and minds. If you are like me, keeping a journal of that work is a difficult discipline, you may have no record at all of the “Why” behind your choices. But this thought from Henri Nouwen has helped me to reflect on the importance of remembering the “why” as much as the “what” in my memories. How might it help us, if we can remember the why and how we approached actions in our past in order to hold those up against the why and how we are approaching the future? What might God be doing in us to prepare us for something that is just out of reach? How can we help each other to trust in a future the is uncertain yet known because God is in control of it?
In the coming year our congregation will be invited to consider our future. I am certain that God is with us and that we are not alone in discerning how to move forward with love for the world and proclamation of the Gospel in Edmonton. I hope that we will be able to do this work with great hope and joy but I do not know that it will be without visitations of grief and sadness. But here again I reflect on Nouwen’s words, words the echo the words of the Gospels, “Do not be afraid.” God’s promises last and we are not alone to seek them out and to live as people of the Way.
As I take my maternity leave I want you all to know that I am so very grateful for this gift of time with my children and family. I also want you to know that my prayers, my commitment and my hopes are still with our church family as well. This call from God to discern the future is a call we share. Let us help each other to keep choosing God and trusting that God will lead us well through whatever the future holds!