Jesus on the Journey
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, . . . nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38
“How are you doing?” I asked a friend recently. It was no trite question. My friend lives and works in Washington, D. C. For 40 years, she’s directed mental health programs in the Department of Health and Human Services. We work together, long-distance, to equip faith communities and clergy in suicide prevention and other mental health issues. She’s also a lifelong Methodist. Her commitment to follow in Jesus’ way undergirds her commitment to serve.
Like other federal employees, my friend faces an uncertain future. Her salary cut to $1/year. Being fired at a moment’s notice.
What troubles my friend the most, though, is that her agency could be dismantled. She and her colleagues care deeply about the people they serve, people with mental illness—and their families–who are often left out and left behind. It breaks her heart to know that service may end.
Added to the job uncertainty, she is dealing with her husband’s battle with cancer and the recent deaths of both her mother and her sister. So “How are you doing?” was no casual question.
My friend laughed softly over the phone line and then said, “I’ve discovered the journey is easier if you go with Jesus.”
My friend is not particularly pious or overtly religious. She simply knows what Paul knew in his Roman prison cell: There is nothing in life or death that can separate from the love of God made known to us in Jesus Christ. As she walks through the valley of her shadows, there is One who walks with her. It makes the journey possible.
Help us to remember, Lord, that wherever our journeys lead, you walk with us. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.