Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jesus, My Companion on the Journey

I can't see the road ahead, the twists and turns it may take. I can't see what's at the end of it all. The road called Life is filled with paths that are well worn, yet some are rarely taken. The road has beautiful sites along its route, but some of it is under construction. I can't see far ahead, but I can look back and remember where I've been. And I can look beside me to see who is walking the journey with me. Sometimes the other walkers change. They take different paths. And sometimes I'm the one who walks in a different direction. But as long as I follow the road signs along the way (and even if I don't) there is always One other person on the road with me. Jesus is my Companion on the Journey.

There have been times when my sight is clouded by the fog of confusion or the rain of despair, but my steady companion remains by my side. Sometimes I've gotten caught up by staring at the distractions along the path and don't watch where I'm going. But Jesus, my Companion, clears away the stubble from my feet to keep me from falling or from tripping over them.

Sometimes people call me away from the path I've chosen saying, "This road is easier; it's clearer. Come over here." Jesus, my Companion, may let me walk that way for a while. And on that other path -when I've followed other people instead of Jesus- I get lost. The great thing about my Companion on the Journey of Life is that He never loses sight of me. He may wait for me on the right path until I find my own way back, or he may call my name and bring me back. He may even send other walkers on the journey to rescue me from the alternate route. Once I see Him again and take His hand, I feel peaceful and calm. I know He was right all along.

The main clearing, the widest route in front of me is not always the route I should be choosing. As a matter of fact, most times of my life are NOT along the well worn route. Jesus leads me along the route that He knows is the best one for me.

Sometimes it feels like He and I are the only ones on that route, but it isn't true. If I stop concentrating on myself I can see the other walkers who accompany me. He already knows who these people are. Jesus has carefully placed some of his friends along side me. He knows who I'll meet on the path He has chosen for me. Sometimes I strengthen them and many times they strengthen me. Sometimes I bring others back to the Jesus route and sometimes others call me back to the right path. It's funny. I've noticed how you can never immediately recognize these Jesus friends. They don't all look the same and they don't all act the same. But once the Son rises and the clouds leave my eyes, I can see their hearts. I see their faith and then I see Jesus in them. They all have "Jesus" hearts. When you've spent a lot of time together with someone, you begin to act and think like that person. I am very grateful for all the friends in whose lives Jesus has allowed me to share. They've brought clarity, enthusiasm and direction to my own.

I'm not much of a hiker by nature, so I need a lot of help to stay on the journey with Jesus and the friends He has placed there with me. Jesus gives me these gifts when I need them and not before. At times it is the gift of enlightenment. I may be able to see the stubble in another person's path and help them to clear it away for themselves. It may be stubble I've already been through myself that someone else has helped me through.

Sometimes Jesus gives me the gift of strong faith. I use it like a walking cane to give me support and strength. Once in a while, unfortunately not often enough, I use my hands to reach out for help and guidance when I feel weak. I have a tendency not to do that too much. The problem then becomes that no one else knows I'm feeling weak and they look to me for strength I don't feel I have. I'm learning to speak out and ask for help from Jesus and others more.

I've learned some things along this journey called life. One is that you can't really see too far ahead. I have to remind myself of this. I cannot predict the future; I need to trust. The road isn't safe and secure, it's full of surprises. But if I spend too much time looking backwards with nostalgia at what has been, I won't be able to see the gifts and new experiences in store for me. I have a tendency to want security and to know the path ahead. I have a tendency to seek sure footing. Jesus doesn't seem to want that for me. He likes roller coasters. I usually prefer something safe like a merry go round. Both rides are fun. In the long run, I guess I'd rather be on a roller coaster with Jesus than on a merry go round by myself.

Another thing I've learned on this journey called life is that I am very, very blessed. Some people call it lucky, I call myself blessed. When I look around I see people searching, empty and lonely. It's not that I don't experience periods of that myself, but they don't last a whole lifetime. So many people are looking for whatever will fill the emptiness that this life holds. I never look.
People are hurrying; they scurry around searching and running for fulfillment. I know where mine is. I'm hungry for Jesus. But all I have to do is to stop and look into His eyes. They are always there right in front of me. There isn't any greater gift than that.

I trust my Companion. I am sure that He respects me. I know that He knows me better than I know myself. I know that He challenges me to be my best self because He believes in me. I love my Companion, Jesus, and the very best gift He has given me is that He loves me right back..

I've decided that in my own life despite the twists and turns, despite the stubble and distraction, I don't want to be anywhere else with anyone else. I want to be on this road with my Jesus and I invite you to take His hand and let Him travel with you, too. But just because you've chosen the right path, don't expect that life will be easy.

No one's life is easy. But not one of us is going through it alone, even if we think we are. Imagine how difficult life would be without prayer and without Jesus! Where was my companion Jesus when I was going through hard times? He was right there beside me, crying with me or putting his arms around my shoulders to comfort me. He gives me and He gives you the strength to put one foot in front of the other. He feeds us with the Eucharist and speaks to us through the Scriptures. During that difficult time, He surrounded me with other friends like the women's prayer group who prayed over me, for me and with me. He's always gifting me.

Someday I look forward to reaching the end of this journey and being with my companion forever in eternity. For now, I'm happy and proud to have Him by my side every day down every path. He was with me along every part of my journey. Then He went ahead of me to meet me at my new job. I knew when I got there that He was waiting there for me.
I trust Jesus. He has only care for me in His plan. He loves me and it shows. My daily life, whether it is a roller coaster or a merry go round, is a journey He and I are taking together. I encourage you to ask for the strength to take His hand. Walk together with Him along the journey of your own life. It can be a very long and lonely path without Him. Wherever life leads you, remember He goes ahead and waits there for you. Jesus, your companion will prepare the path for you and prepare you for the path. Sometimes He clears it smooth for you and you don't even know He's done that. Sometimes He's standing right beside you as you struggle through your fog of confusion and your rain of despair. But never forget that He is always with you and He wouldn't want to be anywhere else

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