My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Our pastor shared a portion of this prayer during the "Hanging of the Greens" service last night, and it really stood out to me. The part about the desire to please God. I guess because I've been thinking a lot about that very topic lately.
Looking back over my life, I have made some giant blunders, I have acted rashly and foolishly at times. I have been stubborn and certain of my "rightness". But in spite of all that, I can look back honestly and say that from an early age, I had a desire to please God that stayed with me through all that and up until this day. It was only that desire for God and that tenderness toward the things of God that spared me from disaster at times, I am certain.
This may be a topic for a theologian (which I am not), but I have often wondered about that desire...where it came from. Why some "have it" and some necessarily "don't". I don't recall doing anything in particular to seek it or cultivate it. It just was. And I was open to it. I can't take any "credit" for it, please don't misunderstand me! Do you believe that some people are born with more of a bent toward God, and others born with even more a bent toward rebellion? (knowing, of course, that we are ALL born in sin and apart from God)
Part of my thinking about it, probably pertains to parenting. As most topics eventually roll back around to it nowadays, it seems. I look at my four unique children. With four unique personalities and giftings. Areas of strength and weakness. And with all the mistakes that I have made and will make in my parenting tenure, I think if I could give them one thing, it would be that deep-down, can't-get-away-from-it, DESIRE to please God.
I talk to them about it. I encourage them to pray about it. To ask God for it. I pray with them. Maybe there is more I could do.
Back to this prayer by Thomas Merton: in many ways it feels like my very own prayer today. Like I could have written it myself. It speaks with resounding clarity to where I am on my journey today. In some ways, I feel the longer I live, the less I know and understand. But the things that I DO know and understand become all the more clear and real.
And with Merton, I say, surely the desire that I have to please YOU, does in fact please YOU! Amen!