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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

When You Don't Know What To Do

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

(John 1:38 NKJV)

Nothing is as difficult and complex for those in positions of responsibility as caring for others when he himself would greatly need to be cared for. It is an experience similar to the flame that is gradually fading in the prolonged effort to transfer its fire while barely managing to keep itself alive. Perhaps this is what somehow happened to the prophet Jonah when he decided to turn his back and go in the opposite direction, and what more than a few people are experiencing these days. Who could say otherwise? Not me! In fact, what my eyes are seeing can only confirm it. Beyond apparent outbreaks of local or localized, sought or proclaimed, forced and publicized awakenings, Jesus' words to the two Baptist disciples continue to rumble in my mind and go through me inwardly like the wind that Nicodemus could not discern. "What do you seek?" The two knew how to find inspiration from the words of their teacher John and did not hesitate to follow rabbi Jesus and would not be intimidated by that question. Perhaps therein lies the secret, getting behind the Christ even when it is not clear what we really need.

How many times have I read, heard and advised myself that one does not solve problems by running away from them, even though the first impulse always goes in the opposite direction and points very far away. Over the years, however, I am discovering that not all problems can be tackled. Here then is where the first impulse is to flee, as the author of the Psalm wished: "So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest” (Psalm 55:6-8). Flee from the troubles of the moment, flying, like a dove, far into the wilderness. David is experiencing a complicated time because of his son Absalom's revolt. He then has to deal with the betrayal of his friend and adviser Ahitofel, who has passed into the ranks of his rebellious son (2 Samuel 15:12). This was a trusted friend, a close confidant, a prayer companion from whom he never expected such an action. He has a big problem to deal with in his own home and finds himself the best friend in the shoes of a traitor and enemy. How not to sympathize with him. Where to start when the solution is not simple? Here is where deep disappointment drives him into despondency, and having no requital in lament and with a heart that spasms he takes refuge in prayer. It is not an escape, nor a circumvention of the obstacle, but a recognition that the solution does not belong to us.

When an impetuous wind blows over our lives, when the storm envelops us and turns us upside down, the understandable desire and common aspiration is to run away. When a mountain rises before us, rather than trying to overcome it, the instinct drives elsewhere. Whatever place we choose as our destination, common terminal should be prayer, not intended as the liberating outburst of the moment, but the cry of one who needs help from Above and knows that He is totally Other. The more contingent situations push me to flee the more I will strive to walk in the Master's footsteps. I owe it to myself and to those who have called me. I don't know where His steps will lead me; I don't care, if He is the one walking ahead. His presence reassures me like no one else. The two disciples of the Baptist understood that it was necessary to find out where He lived, so they could spend time with Him. What little faith I have left and so far has not been shaken is certain that if sometimes I should fail to glimpse Him in front of me, He is at my back watching over and protecting my walk, "You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me" (Psalms 139:5). I don't know about you, but I don't consider myself superior to anyone, far from it. I find, in fact, that I am last among the last, but similar to Moses (murderer), Jacob (usurper of brother), Jephthah (judge removed from brothers), Jonah (fugitive and disobedient), Elijah (fearful). I think they are enough. Their God today is also mine. And He knows what to do.


Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 19

May 06, 2 Kings 1-3; Luke 24:1-35

May 07, 2 Kings 4-6; Luke 24:36-53

May 08, 2 Kings 7-9; John 1:1-28

May 09, 2 Kings 10-12; John 1:29-51

May 10, 2 Kings 13-14; John 2

May 11, 2 Kings 15-16; John 3:1-18

May 12, 2 Kings 17-18; John 3:19-36

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