Notes from Life's Journey

September 30, 2009

I’m Making a Journey, Lord.

Cynthia Clawson, on her 1978 record, sang a song called The Journey; its lyrics are:

“I’m making a journey, Lord
The greatest journey of all!
My steps may fail, Lord
So please don’t let me fall
The way is narrow, Lord!
And sometimes I feel alone.
When my heart fears, Lord,
I softly pray this song,

‘Give me the heart to be pure
Give me the faith to be sure
Give me the strength to endure,
All my tribulations!’

I need some courage, Lord…
To make it just one more mile…
I want to hold Your hand,
And I want to see You smile!

‘Give me the heart to be pure
Give me the faith to be sure
Give me the strength to endure
All my tribulations!’

Most of us (adults, too) live life like children on a trip – “Are we there yet?” In that lifestyle of anticipating the next step [‘can’t wait ’til Friday … ’til I can drive … ’til I’m 21 … ’til I graduate … ’til I marry … ’til vacation … ’til I look better in my swimsuit … ’til I retire, etc.]  we don’t take the opportunity to fully experience the present moment. Life isn’t so much about our destination as it is about the journey.

I’m a reader! Note the exclamation point – it’s not grammatically correct, but pertinent to me. When my daughter, Kay, was practice teaching a unit on punctuation (and specifically the exclamation mark) to first graders, she asked for a sentence that would show excitement and thus require an exclamation mark. One of the six-year-old girls then gave an example similar to the one at the beginning of this paragraph. Kay reiterated that the exclamation mark was to be used to show excitement. The girl replied, “But it does excite me.” I loved her enthusiasm and that’s why I used the exclamation mark. You may be thinking, “And your point is?”

Sometimes I read a simple phrase or sentence that impacts me deeply [I am unable to contain myself and so I share them]. That was the case many years ago when I was reading Francois Fenelon’s book, Christian Perfection, and he quoted Genesis 17:1b (from the French) translated as “Walk in my presence, and you will be perfect.” I learned many years ago that the word perfect in the Bible doesn’t mean flawless as we are prone to think; rather it has more of the connotation of finished, completed or whole. The impact that translation opened for me was not so much in the end result but in the process, which was “walk in my presence.”

In the Bible the word walk is often used to mean live – in this case, “live your life in my presence.” As a person who loves words, I think it’s important to note the word is an active verb – remember from English classes that a verb is a word that denotes an action. It doesn’t say, “pray in my presence’ or ‘meditate in my presence,’ [sacred activities] but rather, ‘walk [or live] in my presence.’

Too often, we are tempted to relegate God to Sundays or religious holidays or times of tragedy or need, but the Genesis 17:1b concept is that God is always present. Actually, the word translated ‘presence’ means turned or facing. The importance of that distinction is that many of us would hope God is walking with us in the direction we are going. Our prayers often have an element of, “God, bless me in this …” The distinction in God’s instruction was not that He was going to walk with Abram whereever he walked [though He is omnipresent], but that God was asking Abram to always be turned to face His direction.

Obviously, I’m neither flawless nor finished, so there are times when I’m not living as an active verb nor am I facing God’s way or even if I am facing Him, I may not be in motion. Staying connected to God through His word is a little like plugging in a GPS that keeps telling me I’m heading the wrong way and repeating, “As soon as possible, turn …”

Which leads me back to that Genesis passage, clarified: “Walk and live turned to face me and in the process/journey you will be made whole, finished, complete.” It isn’t about me and what I accomplish but it is about the One I’m walking with and toward and the fact that I’m not going it alone.

When I was in high school [Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City] we had a fabulous choir and the absolutely best choir director ever (Albert Ossenkop – Ozzie). He gave us two things besides a love of and a joy in music: our choir scripture, which he read to us before every performance we did:

Psalms 121:1-8 (KJV)
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

and our choir song, sung throughout our choir experience and at our graduation, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Carousel. The lyrics are:

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.

The first time in the musical the song is sung it is when Julie tries to sing it immediately following the death of her husband. Her voice breaks as she cries and Nettie takes up the song for her. At the end of the movie, as Billy and Julie’s daughter, Louise, is graduating from high school in sadness at what she’s experienced in life, the commencement speaker asks the students to remember the words of the song and they all rise and sing it together. I’ve provided a link to a youtube clip from the ending scene in the movie where it is sung by the graduating class; it is one of my favorite songs.

As we walk in His presence, we are never alone.

1 Comment »

  1. Ah, Donna – I love it! You are such a gift to me, and your insights about the significance of walking with the Lord have kept this girl’s feet going, one step at a time. How wonderful to know these insights will no longer only be gracing my inbox, but will be available to everyone.

    I’d love to put a link to this blog on my blog – but I’m not nearly as wordpress savvy as you are. (The video you posted is a little beyond my stage of blogging development.) 🙂 Any tips you have about that are welcome.

    Thank you, Donna – for all of the help and encouragement you have been to me on this journey so far. I’ll be following “The Traveler’s Journal”, and I’m so glad others can too!

    Comment by Kristen — October 2, 2009 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

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