I remember the day I bought my favorite Bible. I was browsing the Bible selection at Barnes & Noble. I saw one that was a translation that not only wasn’t KJV (I was looking for literally any other translation), but it was also one I hadn’t heard of before. It was the New Revised Standard Version (the version I usually use for the blogs, if you haven’t noticed). I picked it up. It was a lovely gray with a beautiful cross and Psalm 46:10 on the front in black. I turned to some of my favorite verses, and I just loved the way they were worded. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. That Bible has been a lot of places, and it’s been through a lot, including getting caught in the rain with me and being shuttled back and forth from Jonesville to Cullowhee.
There are many great qualities about this Bible. For instance, the NRSV translation is the most historically accurate. My Bible doesn’t really have a concordance in the back of it. There are some recommended verses for when you’re feeling a particular way, but you can’t really look up verses based on their diction. It has some prayers in the back of it, including one of the greatest prayers I’ve ever heard or read. It’s written amongst prayers by saints and prayers from the Bible, but you won’t find its words on a stained-glass window or across plaques. It’s by a man named Thomas Merton.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
I could go on and on about the great qualities of this prayer, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just hit on a few of them: the concepts of who we are, what we’re doing, and the unknown.
I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare. I’m not even kidding. I have his complete works, which I acquired after buying several of his plays individually as well and a book of his sonnets. I intend to read everything he’s written before I die. I have a book titled A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare that I also aim to read eventually. And my dog’s name is Othello (although it was my dad’s idea to call him that, not mine). This is a picture of him.
Anyway, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays is Hamlet. Of the Shakespeare plays I’ve read, it’s the one I quote the most. For those of you who haven’t read it, I’ll sum it up as quickly and simply as I can. Hamlet is a prince in Denmark. His father has recently died, and his mother has remarried (to the deceased’s brother, if I’m not mistaken). The ghost of Hamlet’s father comes to Hamlet and tells him that he was murdered by Hamlet’s stepfather. He wants Hamlet to avenge him. Hamlet then begins his journey to seek revenge. Hamlet begins acting crazy, but as the play goes on, even the reader (or watcher, I suppose) is unsure of whether or not it’s just an act. There is a well-known line from the play that, although it is not addressed to Hamlet, is significant and ironic. “To thine own self be true.”
Well, I’m sure Hamlet would do that if he knew who he was.
I’m sure everyone would if they knew who they were.
The question “Who am I?” is one that has been around as long as humans have, and I’m just about certain that every human has asked this question before. Some people spend their entire lives trying to find the answer to this question, and sadly, some never obtain it. There are people who think they know who they are but aren’t entirely sure. Then there are people who feel they know exactly who they are, and a portion of those are even comfortable with the answer they find.
I’m not trying to get into a large discussion here. Knowing who you are doesn’t make you a better person or a better child of God. It’s just something to discover for yourself. The point I want to make here is that regardless of whether or not we know ourselves – accept our personalities, habits, tastes, and purposes and decide whether or not we want to change who that person is – we find our truest selves in God.
Knowing the One who created us and who knows us better and in more ways than we could ever know ourselves allows us to discover who we are. We have a longing to be or become the person we were created to be. It’s a relationship that both reinforces the qualities we should keep and shows the qualities we need to work on.
The next issue the prayer addresses is knowing what we’re doing. Of course, we know what we’re literally doing, right here and now. But what about the path we’re taking in life? Is it the one that God wants us on for the next few miles or does He want us to take the next exit and get off as quickly as we can? Are we pleasing God with the way we’re going?
The path God wants you to take may not be the one you want to take. At least that’s what you think now. I assure you, God’s not going to make you take a road you don’t want to be on. He won’t force you to stay in a place forever if it’s not bringing you happiness or serving a purpose of some sort.
I believe that anyone who truly and actively seeks the will of God will find it. When we search for God’s interests and plans in our lives, we will ultimately find them, even if it’s not in the place we thought it’d be or within the time frame we were hoping for.
This is in close relation to the third quality of the prayer that I want to discuss: the unknown. I’m sure I don’t have to list the reasons the unknown is scary. And people have a right to be afraid of the unknown.
But there is always more comfort when you’re walking with God. For one, while we don’t know what’s coming up, God does. Secondly, God only has our best interests in heart. God isn’t going to lead us somewhere sketchy or harmful and leave us there. No, God will be with us every single step, every single minute.
As you guys may have picked up by now, I tend to see things a little differently than most people. (I get told by my brother at least once a week that I’m weird. I wear it as a badge of honor). My favorite translation of Matthew 28:20, the very last verse of that Gospel, that I’ve come across so far is the King James Version. It’s Jesus talking, and it reads, “…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Most people read that as Jesus will be with us until the world that we are in ceases to exist. And I read it that way as well, but I also take it a different way. I take it to mean that Jesus will be with us through legitimately everything, through everything in the world, and that he’ll be with us even when our worlds start to fall apart.
We need not be afraid of the unknown because while we don’t know what is to come or what will happen, we know God is right there with us through it all.
By Carrie Prevette