Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
I have a confession to make and I hope that I can offer it without any threat of judgment or condemnation. What I want you to know is that I love Broadway show-tunes. For years I have pretended to like the Buffalo Bills and Sabres. However, the truth is I’d rather be at Shea’s than New Era Field any day of the week. I love theatre.
One of my favorite songs right now is the opening number from the musical Dear Evan Hansen. The song is titled “Anybody Have a Map?” It’s a song that is sung by two mothers who are struggling with their relationships with their teenage sons. The chorus says:
Does anybody have a map?
Happen to know how the heck (sic) to do this?
I don’t know if you can tell But this is me just pretending to know
So where’s the map?
I need a clue
‘Cause the scary truth is
I’m flying blind
And I’m making this up as I go.
What I love about that song is while I don’t have any teenage sons or daughters yet, I’m beginning to see the dread and terror I’m in for (particularly with the girls). Moreover, this song perfectly captures the angst, exasperation, and lament that I feel so often. In so many instances, on so many occasions, in so many ways, and on so many days I have found myself saying: How the heck am I going to do this???? Where’s the map????
I say that not just as a pastor (although I say that a lot as a pastor), but also as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, chaplain, volunteer and more than anything just a disciple of Jesus. I’m flying blind and I’m making this up as I go. And my guess is there have been times in life when we’ve all been there. Times when we’ve been stuck wondering where the map is… pretending to know… making it up as we go…
It happens on a daily basis in many of the relationships we pretend are routine and mundane. In happens with our relationships with teenage sons and daughters and aging parents and newborns and toddlers and over-worked spouses and sick friends and in-laws. Where’s the map??? It happens at school and at work, in social groups and various affiliations, often spurred on by anxiety, depression, and insecurity… This is me just pretending to know. And it certainly happens in the wake of diagnosis, debt, disaster, divorce, and death… I don’t know how the HECK to do this.
“So, where’s the map?” is the question asked by the bullied kid, the lost teen, the broke young adult, the overworked 30-something, those having a mid-life crisis, the lonely retiree, the grieving widow(er), those fighting for their life, and all those who feel helpless standing beside them.
The reality is we want a map because we want control. We want to chart our course, make the right decisions, and find the clearest exit from any suffering, angst, or lament we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, rarely is a map provided to us. Fortunately, we always have a guide. In scripture Jesus in his farewell discourse tells his disciples that his departure means the arrival of God present with us in a new ever-present, abiding way through the Spirit. Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you…” John 16:13.
The call to discipleship is not to grab our own map and go our own way, but to pick up our cross (which implies that there will be challenges) and follow Christ guided by the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we are called to embrace our cross – to embrace our suffering – because we know that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and the hope we have in and from God does not disappoint. (Read Romans 5:1-11. It is pure gold.)
You may be wondering right now how the heck you’re going to get through this – whatever this is. But you will. And God will be with every step of the way. So drop the false maps and cheap tricks offered by this world and place your faith in God. Let the Spirit guide.
In the Way,
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.