Lost & Found
Lost & Found
I took a walk this afternoon to Kinnoull Tower in the hills above Perth. It was a beautiful walk through the woods, so I decided to take a different trail back from the tower. I got terribly lost. By my instincts I kept thinking that I needed to go further south to get back to the trailhead where I started, so I kept travelling further and further south. Eventually, I looked at my watch and realized I didn’t have much time before the late afternoon session would begin. I knew I needed to try a different plan. Since I was well up in the hills above the city, I could look down and spot the tall steeple of St. John’s Cathedral (where John Knox preached). I decided that I needed to head downhill toward the church steeple, knowing that I could find my way home from there. It worked, and I got back to the monastery in time for the session.
I find this to be a fitting allegory for my life. When I follow my own instincts I get lost; when I look to the cross lifted up I find my proper way home.
For example: By my instincts I have thought that the way for me to grow stronger in my spiritual life had to do with trying harder to be good and suppressing anything in me that seemed to be contrary to what a good Christian should be and hiding from myself and from others my faults and failures. But following that route actually kept taking me further “south.” It was leading me only to Pharisaism not to intimacy with God. It kept me in the company of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son—working dutifully in the Father’s fields but missing out on enjoying the grace of the Father. But when I turn and look to the cross then I begin to understand that the key to spiritual growth and intimacy with God does not have to do with my great efforts but with ever deepening dependency on and gratitude for the grace of Jesus. When I turn back to the cross I focus on His love rather than my efforts, and I encounter His kindness rather than my works. That’s a much better place to be.