What makes human beings unique? Is it our language? Cooperative skills? Our ability to watch Netflix, bake cookies, and pay online bills all at the same time?
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania believe there is one ability that, more than any other, makes humans unique: We contemplate the future.
Sometimes, this ability lifts our spirits as we anticipate the good and hope for things to come. But it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our lives or worrying about the nation. Sometimes, we humans get stuck in the past. But apparently, we think even more about what is still to come.
In Exodus, when God first called Abram to be the father of a great nation, God said, “Go to the land that I will show you.” Only God never tells Abram where to go. God simply says, “Leave your country and kin and father’s house behind and go. I’ll show you where you are headed later on.” This story has always baffled me. How does anyone move without knowing the destination? Imagine telling the good folks at Allied Moving, “Yeah, just pack all this stuff up and start driving. I’ll tell you where we’re headed after we hit the road.” Silly, right?
Yet this is the wisdom of faith – learning how to operate with some, but never all, the information. Picking a life partner. Expecting a baby. Discerning a new job. Dealing with a scary diagnosis. Sensing a call to grow in faith. All of these things require some information gathering – but ultimately, they also require us to get up and move before we know the final destination. We must trust. We must be vulnerable. We must risk getting something wrong. Or discovering something wonderful we never anticipated.
Trinity’s Call Committee for our next Pastor of Spiritual Care is living this reality right now. Candidate names have been very few. We continue to search, but the clergy shortage is making this process very hard right now. At our most recent meeting, a call committee member said, “We need to not overdrive our headlights.” His point was that while we are all eager to see the future, we can’t rush beyond what is currently illuminated. We will keep searching while also exploring new possibilities for staffing – a lay spiritual care staff person, a semi-retired pastor, or a neighboring pastor who serves with us part-time. And we are working diligently to maintain our strong spiritual care ministries while we wait.
“Get up and go to the place I will show you.” It’s both a promise (God is with you) and an invitation to trust.