When a person stops growing they begin to die. That is true of us physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. One of the advantages we experience in growing old is that we have a chance to look back on our lives with all of the joys and sorrows, gains and losses, ugliness and beauty and still grow as we look for what Richard Rohr refers to as our “true selves” that emerge over time. No longer do we need to build “a successful career”, to “placate the boss”, to compete in the business, academic or religious world. As we grow older we finally see that is not what our life was really about. That turning- point in our lives comes for most of us when something we cannot fix, mend, or control occurs and we turn to God and say: “God, my life is in your hands. I can’t do this without you!” At that point we stop growing the “self” we have built up in our minds and the minds of our friends and family and begin to grow our “true self” as one of God’s children.
On my spiritual journey through life I spent the greater portion of the journey not knowing God. Oh, I knew about God. God was an intellectual construct that I made in theology classes in seminary. I preached about God. I married and buried people in God’s name-—but I myself was just a spiritual nomad wondering in the desert in search of a God I did not know. Always in the back of my mind I considered myself a “fake” minister because of that. It was not until the summer of 2010 and the sudden death of my wife of 50+ years that I finally ran into a situation that I could not fix, mend, or control. I cried out to God: “Help me! I can’t get through this on my own.” And I felt a peace come over me immediately that let me know that God was there, that God would lead me through the dark valley, and that God loved me all along and had been there waiting for me to call on his name!
Now, as I look back on my life I see the hand of God everywhere I look and as I look forward I see God’s hand leading me. God has blessed me with a loving and caring wife. God has blessed me with loving and caring children and grandchildren. God has blessed me with a peace I have never known before. And God has blessed me with growth—-growth in my faith in God. I am no longer a “spiritual nomad” searching for God. I am growing daily as God’s child through reading and study of the bible and through reading of the writings of those in the Christian Faith who are seeking to make God a reality for those around them. I am seeing that God’s only requirement for me is to love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and my neighbor as myself. I am growing still at 77 years of age and hope to continue for a long time. But if I die tomorrow, that’s o.k. I know that God loves me and will take care of me both in life and in death.
Are you a spiritual nomad? Do you feel like the Prodigal Son? Remember, God ran out to meet the prodigal son and threw his arms around him and welcomed him home. He’s waiting to welcome you also!