God’s Three Step Plan for Your Life
Scripture for the spiritual journey.
Who can be so bold as to dare the title of this volume? A prophet of God. No, not me. Micah of Moresheth. Let us turn to the Old Testament, and read from Micah 6:8, and so begin our study.
“He hath shewed you, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
The language is old, copied in this instance from the King James version that was presented to me by the Baptist Bible School when I was a wee lad back on September 27, 1953. But while the translation is old, the message is timeless.
A second question then—what can I hope to add? Ah, ancient too is the tradition of commentary on scriptures, and perhaps this work will be of some value. I take considerable comfort here from the words of the 7th century ascetic monk John of the Ladder, who said:
“If some are still dominated by their former bad habits, and yet can teach by mere words, let them teach. . . for perhaps, being put to shame by their own words, they will eventually begin to practice what they teach.”
I hope to do better in the living of my life, to be shamed less. And hope also that this book may give others surer footing as well. If not from my observations, perhaps from the excerpts from some remarkable people as their words shine light. So here let me acknowledge some of those teachers, as they speak from various traditions. Catholic. Protestant. Jewish. Muslim. Buddhist too. For we are all human, and the essential human quest is religious. So in this book we will gather to ourselves some of the wisdom of the sages and saints, among whom let me mention now:
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose life was a response to hearing Jesus say “I thirst”.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the brilliant theologian martyred by the Nazis in 1945
Adam Steinsaltz, the renowned Hasidic scholar and rabbi
The Dalai Lama
Rav P.S. Berg, director of The Kabbalah Center
Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and best selling author of The Seven Story Mountain
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
Origen, one of the most influential of the early church fathers (185 – c.254)
Henri J. M. Nouwen, priest, professor, much admired for his books and insights
The Chafetz Chaim, a revered Torah scholar, author of Ahavath Chesed.
Still, the commentary will be primarily from a Christian perspective. Years ago I took vows as a Knight Templar to strive to become ‘a soldier and servant of Christ all the days of my life’, and so my own path must be that. Even so, other traditions – and especially Jewish thought – will be of immense value in this undertaking.
And we should welcome the help. In John 18:36 Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. Yet we are in the world, and from Matthew 5:13 have the charge of being the salt of the world. Permit me a metaphor (a practice that often enmeshed the early church father Origen in controversy!), and let us look at the Jewish traditional understanding of prayers for welcoming the night. Late afternoon prayer, Minchah, is not much separated from evening prayer, Ma’ariv. Yet how different they are!
Late afternoon, the end of the day. Early evening, the beginning of night. So little separated, for the Talmud (Shab. 34b) advises that when it is dark enough that the first star appears, it is yet day, and when the third star appears the night has arrived. What then of the time of two stars? Ah, is that not where we live? In this world, but not of this world—or, perhaps more accurately during our lives, in both worlds? Hard it is to find our way in a single world, and we are tasked with seeking sure footing in both.
No, it is not necessary to have read about the folks named above, or to know any technical terms like Minchah or chesed. Father Benedict Groeschel, a scholar and who is often heard on Catholic radio, has commented that his charism, his gift of grace from God, is one of plain speaking. This book too, while drawing from the wisdom of others, speaks plainly.
Deep and thoughtful reflection on this single verse – God’s word spoken to us through his prophet Micah – may provide clear and invaluable guidance. Come then, and let us begin this journey together.