“Do you know the way?”
The way I’ve always answered that question is with a map. I have always enjoyed the challenge of finding my way with a map. Today, my map is usually on my phone. Google Maps is my must-have app. It came in very handy three years ago during my sabbatical.
One day while driving in California on my way to San Francisco, I drove through Sequoia National Park. In the evening, I started looking for a town large enough to have a motel. That part of California isn’t very developed. Finally – pretty late that night – I arrived in San Joaquin. But I didn’t know how to find a motel. I felt a little panicked. I was tired, and it was late. But then I remembered my map program. So I simply put the word “motel” in the app, and it led me right to the part of town where all the motels were.
That app helped me find the right way.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus shows us the way to his father. You might say that Jesus is our GPS navigator. Jesus leads us along the right path. He teaches us how to be faithful to his father. We can follow his example of self-giving love. And through his life and death, Jesus opens to us the life of God. He makes it possible for us to have a relationship with God today and for eternity.
Jesus is the way.
So how do we follow this way? How do we read this map? First we listen to Scripture. The words of the Holy Scriptures reveal to us the fullness of the life of God. We are called to read and mediate on these holy words. We are called to allow them to form and shape us. We are called to take them seriously.
This means we have to spend time with them and understand them thoroughly. It means we are called to ask God to reveal to us the meaning these words have for us today. As we listen, Jesus will lead us.
Second, Jesus shows us the way to the father as we pray. Through prayer, we engage in a relationship with God. We share our concerns, our needs and our fears. But we also listen. In fact, I think that prayer is first about listening – asking for direction and discernment of God’s will. Through prayer, we are shaped by the life of God with us. It’s like how two friends who spend lots of time together pick up each others’ habits. As we spend time with God, we learn what is important to God, and our lives are then shaped accordingly.
Finally, Jesus shows us the way to his father as we serve him through the actions of our lives. As we serve, we are following Jesus, the one who served so deeply that he willingly gave his life for us. Self- giving love is by definition not easy. We are called to give away part of ourselves. But we don’t do it alone. Jesus is with us through the power of His Holy Spirit. He is there to strengthen us and make his work possible. And as we serve, we meet Jesus himself in the very people we were sent to help.
As we follow Jesus, he leads us to the fullness of life that God desires for all his people. Today, that is life filled with purpose and meaning – a life filled with the love of God. But there is more. Jesus promises that the life which we know today with God will not end. He has gone before us to prepare the way, and one day he will lead us to his father’s house. “Believe,” he says. Perhaps a better word for us is “trust.” Because we have known the life of God through Scripture, through prayer and through service, we can trust.
We have known the life of God, which is with us today. And this is the life that we can trust to last for all eternity.
The Rev. Sally Franklin is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at 501 Pine St., Fort Mill. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.