It all started with thoughts of Haiti and an upcoming pastors conference in the spring. I read, looked at photos, and spoke with those who have already been. I was overwhelmed. Words come easily to me, but what could I possibly say to fill that bottomless pit of need?
Some of us come from traditions that excel in paralysis by analysis; Others come wired like Hamlet. Perhaps more are just weary, perplexed, or afraid. Then I recalled some of G.K. Chesterton’s words about Joan of Arc:
“Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things…the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time…his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other…a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing… she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts.”
I went with Chesterton from the maid to the Master. Galilee, Jesus, the disciples, 5000 hungry people and Jesus asks the disciples to step in. I think there is a stuck-at-a-crossroads reason we find this miracle in all four Gospels. Then I thought Peter’s similar position at the Temple with no silver or gold in the face of such (literally) crippling need. What do you do at a crossroads of such important decision, a roadblock of such overwhelming need?
Could it be as simple as, in the face of a call to the overwhelming, bring what you have to Jesus? Choose a path? Yes, by all means, get wise counsel – Joan might have missed this one. Certainly prayer is essential. These constitute bringing what we have to Jesus. But then? Choose. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt…she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. Evidently, that is how strongholds fall, the lame walk, the hungry are fed, and the Kingdom is advanced. Maybe Yogi Berra wasn’t ditzy when he said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”