Some Said it Thundered
The 12th chapter of John recounts a prayerful conversation Jesus has with the Father on the day before he is crucified. There we hear Jesus pondering turning back from the path that will lead to certain death and being reassured by the voice of God. The voice is said to have been such that the crowds around Jesus heard it, some saying that the voice thundered.
Jesus has many opportunities to turn away from his purpose but he always finds a way to continue. This passage from John helps us understand that his abiding relationship with his Father and God’s guiding voice carry Jesus through these times of decision. Jesus’ suffering on the cross began with crucial moments of choice. And we are told that a clear spirit of discernment is attained in those moments. The big event of the crucifixion was a long series of little events, all permeated with God’s graceful presence.
The big decisions in our lives are best approached in smaller steps. Generally, if we keep doing the next right thing and devote ourselves to prayerful awareness, the big decisions we face have a way of falling into place. Big decisions are usually a series of smaller decisions, each of them very important.
Most times life allows us to inch forward. Rather than great big leaps, life usually allows for steps. We move into situations instead of being thrust into them, most times. As we take those smaller steps, there is the opportunity for us to monitor how things are developing. We take a step and feel if the ground under us is steady and then we take another step. It’s pretty important, however, to remember to check our footing. If we are paying attention we can tell if the ground ahead is shaky or has obstacles that should be avoided. Rarely is the path a series of steps all straight ahead. Usually there is some steering to do, some feeling our way forward. Take a step, listen, take another step, listen….
When John’s gospel tells of the thundering voice, there is some assurance that the same voice which guides Jesus is there to guide us too. Certainly Jesus’ ability to listen was heightened beyond ours, but the events leading up to the crucifixion do not highlight the superhuman powers of the Christ. They get all their meaning from God the Father who is doing the leading. God leads us in a similar way. The voice is there for all of us, that’s how big the voice is.
Sometimes the situations we enter and the decisions we make need some adjustment along the way. As we move forward, committing ourselves to prayerful listening, we come to know how those changes need to be made. God is not just the goal of our decisions, God is the ground under our feet as we move, the wind at our backs, and the spirit that beckons us. We do not make the decisions alone.
Make your decisions. Each day there are many things to choose. Devote yourself to listening as you choose. God is present in the moment now. The resurrection assures us that God is with us right here to lead us into all that will be required of us.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
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