STRUGGLING FOR INSPIRATION

“Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
[John 6:68]

Every so often, a day or a week rolls around that throws you for a loop. This has been such a week for me. Without going into a great deal of detail, so much has happened that I feel emotionally drained. Yet a while back I committed to blog two times each week, and so I am challenged to sit down and force myself to write with no idea in mind where this post is going.

What does one do when faced with such obstacles? Where does one go for inspiration, for direction?

I envy those who take on the task of writing daily devotions and never seem to run out of ideas. My mornings are spent in scripture reading and prayer, usually followed by meandering aimlessly  through the numerous reflections emailed by those devotional writers who populate my inbox.

There are days when they are simply a jumble of words on a screen. I would love to sit down with one of them and ask how they do it? I imagine it requires a great deal of discipline – a discipline which I seem to find lacking.

I realize that some of those writers are long gone from this earth, and what we are reading are thoughts that were published long ago. But still, at one point they wrote, and some individual or organization has found those words important enough to assemble into bite-sized chunks of wisdom to share with future generations.

Then there are those who are still with us, and who make it their responsibility to pore over sacred scripture and put thoughts to paper that they’ve gleaned from their reading.

And though I may intend to find my inspiration elsewhere, I, too, always return to those words found in the book that has eternally inspired humanity – the Bible.

Henri Nouwen

There is a quote from Henri Nouwen which I’ve used often. I’ve shared it in sermons to pastors about to be ordained.

“When we have lost the vision, we have nothing to show; when we have forgotten the word of God, we have nothing to remember; when we have lost the blueprint of our life, we have nothing on which to build.”
[The Living Reminder (New York: Harper Collins, 1977), p. 73.]

Though the book was written primarily for ministers, there is instruction and guidance that is beneficial to anyone, whether in religious service or any other vocation.

Rachel Held Evans

Before her untimely death in 2019, the author Rachel Held Evans penned a neat book simply titled, Inspired. It was her quest to find answers in the Bible to questions that had troubled her throughout her entire life. I may write a more complete review of the book at another time, but for now, let me say that I highly recommend it to anyone who finds scripture reading demanding.

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve taken occasional hiatuses from daily reading. I think of those as my wilderness moments, those times when I wander about without purpose, flailing at life.

And then, I reach a point when I feel most discouraged, and guess what? I return, like the Prodigal Son, to the comforting words of scripture.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
[Psalm 130:1-2]

I prayed those words along with the psalmist this morning.

As I said at the outset, this has been a tough week. It would have been much tougher, had I not had the Word of God to remind me that I’m not going through this journey alone.

___________

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Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

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