If The Way Be Clear


There's this really church-y, very Presbyterian phrase that I never heard until I went to seminary, and I've heard it a hundred or more times since---mostly from church-y, Presbyterian types. 

Here it is:  "If the way be clear..." 

As in, "We'll do this thing... make this decision... fund this program... if the way be clear." 

It's like a formal version of what your grandma might have meant when she said, "Lord willing, and if the creek don't rise."  You can also pronounce creek "crick" if that works better for you. 

I was thinking about that phrase the other day when it came to mind as I contemplated the future, which I frequently engage in despite my warnings to myself not to overthink it. 

Decision-making doesn't come quickly for most of us, especially in the aftermath of the recent pandemic, which brought a couple of years of intense uncertainty, interrupted plans, broken dreams, and other traumas. 

I've discovered that I have a much harder time predicting what happens next in my life and work, and I also have to relearn what it means to trust that everything will work out in God's time and according to God's purposes when I'm trying to plan ahead. 

And then there's that phrase... "If the way be clear..."  

There's something about that phrase that sounds like it's from another era.  I can even imagine it being spoken by a somber Amish man as he reflects on whether next Tuesday would be a good day to build a barn. 

There's an undercurrent of surrender in those words, though.  They can be spoken when the future is uncertain, the outcome unpredictable, and the path forward isn't all that discernible.  

When the way isn't clear, you sometimes need to acknowledge that rushing forward might not be the best idea in the world: 

Author Melody Beattie puts it like this: 

Don't worry if you can't see that far ahead, if you only have a glimmer of light to guide your path.  Slow down. Listen to your heart. Guidance will come.  Trust what you hear.  Do the small thing. Take that one step. Go as far as you can see.  

So for today--if you are worrying and overthinking what tomorrow may bring--slow down, and hold all of your plans loosely for a moment.  And then say these words as a prayer: If the way be clear. 

Let that be your prayer for today and every day you fret about the future.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

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