The Unknown Road
“So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” – Genesis 46:1-4 (NIV)
There were a lot of good reasons to be afraid. According to the book of Genesis, Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) was approximately 130 years old at this point in the story. However you want to calculate that detail, the point is the same; he was very old to be moving to a new home. Additionally, to get to this new home he’d have to travel over 200 miles by foot through some circumspect territory. However, my hunch is that there were deeper fears living in Jacob’s heart that prompted God to say, “Do not be afraid to go…”
Journeys are full of unknown. No matter how scripted the itinerary or how well scouted the destination, the unexpected is a part of every pilgrimage.
When God calls us to venture forth to a new place, a new ministry a new relationship, a new vocation, or a new understanding – are we willing to step into the unknown? Will fear and uncertainty keep our feet firmly planted in the familiar or will we follow love, one footstep at a time?
St. John of the Cross was a 16th century mystic, famous for reforming monasticism through simplicity, silence, and prayer. Once, during a time of prayer, he had a vision. In his vision he stood in front of a gate. Standing at the gate was a gate keeper and behind this person was complete and utter darkness. In his vision, John knew that he had to pass through the gate and into the darkness, into the unknown. So he spoke to the person standing before the darkness and asked him to open the gate.
Once the gatekeeper had opened the gate John then said to him, “Give me a light that I may tread safely through the darkness.” In his vision the gatekeeper replied, “Step into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God and that will be a better light and safer journey than any other way you may see with your own eyes.”
“God has to work in the soul in secret and in darkness because if we fully knew what was happening, and what mystery, transformation, God and Grace will eventually ask of us, we would either try to take charge or stop the whole process.” – St. Juan de la Cruz
God of the day and of the night. Guide me on this journey I’m on. Guide me so that I would walk with you. Guide me to you. Amen.