Discernment around what God requires/asks of each of us in particular is not for the faint of heart or as my father used to say about growing old…is not for wusses!
At first glance the question “what does the Lord require of you?” has a straight-forward answer: do justice, be kind and loving, walk humbly with God. Add to that the imperative to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and we should have this “what is good” according to God down pat.
The words flow off of our lips but the delivery of the “good’…not always so easy.
I have had the joy of knowing without a doubt what God was requiring me to do…actually I feel better using the word “nudging” me towards what was best…on several blessed occasions in my life. Thank you, God! But way more often I have struggled to discern exactly what God was calling me to do in the particular time and place that I found myself in. Please God, no need to communicate with me directly. Just leave your requests on my answering machine – or in later years – just send me a (detailed) text, has been my prayer.
Doing justice, and loving, and humble walking are some days just beyond tough. Please God don’t ask “that” of me!
I naively believed that once I reached this ripe “old” age of 70 that God would give me a break. Well done good and faithful servant, I imagined God saying. Enjoy your retirement, rest, spend your time in quiet reflection and loving me more deeply and I’ll get some of my “younger” peeps to carry the majority of the load and do all the heavy lifting. Not so much.
What does the Lord require of me is ever on my lips and in my heart. This scripture, this call will not let me go.
The sermon I heard on New Year’s Day included the refrain: New Year…New Me! As I looked around the Florida congregation with whom I was worshiping, I marveled with joy at this pastor who dared to tell her folks, average age of 80 (I am one of the young ins’) that they could aspire to be a new, more loving and more just creation this new year. Hope never dies that we can be all what God wants us to be…no matter who we are or how far along we are on this life’s journey.
God asks each of us each day to be open to all that we are and all that we can do. God calls us to listen and to discern where we might be used, how justice might be done in and with our lives. The particular ask does change (I could get down to the floor to sleep on a mission trip to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, but getting me up would not be pretty), but the call is still alive – no matter our age.
Thank you, God, that you keep asking, knowing that you will equip us to answer. The call is to work for justice, to pray, to speak your truth even when it is hard, and mostly to love even when we don’t always like!
Mary Oliver says it for me:
My work is loving the world…
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
(from “Messenger” in Thirst: Poems 2007 by Mary Oliver)