Hide and seek
Can you recall the sensation of being lost? It is a situation that occurs less frequently than in the past -- at least in a physical sense.
Since we have Global Positioning System devices, we can usually be found no matter where we wander.
In the same moment that we realize that we have lost our bearings, we can usually open a hand-held device and ascertain our location.
But what about the wandering heart? It isn't unusual for us to find ourselves in places and spaces where there are no familiar landmarks.
We may encounter a person or situation that jolts our peace by agitating feelings that are new or unanticipated.
Or, we may suddenly realize that we have gone on our own mental energy for days and then look around asking: "Where is God in all of this?"
Here's a reality check: Spiritual disorientation will never be solved by accessing the satellite system or by "Googling" for information about our situation.
When we are spiritually lost, the one (and only) reliable source of resolution is God. His intentional and loving outreach can establish us in the security of knowing "where we are."
The lure of good times
Have you ever wondered about the part you play in your own spiritual wandering?
Sometimes our perception of happiness causes us to walk away from our focus upon Christ. The goodness of the world may cause us to forget that even the "best" that the world can offer -- or that any human can provide -- pales in comparison to the fullness that is possible through oneness in Christ.
We experience the immediacy of pleasure or "happiness" and may hope that the good times won't come to an end.
Sometimes we gather and protect "happiness" as if we could really protect it from the inevitable movement of change. This is one way we may hide from the Good Shepherd, who is always pursuing us and inviting us into the whole, the more, that is possible, if we can let go of all situations and things no matter how happy they make us feel.
Here's another way this lamb wanders: When life is good, I don't dwell on the fact that there is always some aspect of myself, my thoughts, my actions that is not quite "in the fold" of the Good Shepherd.
After all, things are going smoothly, so I'm less likely to be listening with full attention for the voice of the shepherd who is always seeking me.
Like sheep, I am always capable of wandering away from the place Christ calls me to be or the path God wishes me to take.
In some instances the goodness that I see in me may actually tempt me to hide from becoming the full, sacrificial self to which Christ beckons me.
I would rather hold on to something that is working well than be open to being led to transformation -- a new way of being or thinking.
When times get hard
On the other hand, when life is bumpy and my fear and pain are on the front burner of my awareness, I am more prone to seek God's hand.
When I am bruised and broken, I bleat out like a lost lamb, hoping desperately that in the midst of the world's chaos the Good Shepherd will hear and respond to my cry.
No surprise, I have never been left in the dangerous, frightening place for very long! The situation may not immediately or dramatically change, but my awareness of God's presence re-establishes my heart in fullness and hope.
Hiding. Seeking. That's life's variable rhythm.
Thankfully, the Good Shepherd is not likewise variable. The Lord is always seeking me, especially in those moments when I am clueless that I am lost or in hiding.
Originally posted May 15, 2011, at Faith Formation. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Pamela Czarnota’s blog Faith Formation at Lutheran Blogs.