The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say. (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Jesus said, “…Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10; context)
Our roads are spirituals ones. They are long, and the end is far off. Or is it? These roads are unlike any physical roads that we have ever traveled. The end is, paradoxically, both far off and very near.
The far off end is the misty, half-seen vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, where we are enveloped in God’s presence and consumed by a love that we have until then only known in part. Because of our limited, human existence, we are bound to walk down the road in a linear manner – from one event to the next. Therefore, we perceive this great enveloping of God’s love as something that will happen in the obscurity of the distant future. We still have plenty of present to churn into past before that will happen.
But because God’s nature is eternal, God doesn’t much bother with past, present, or future. Everything is present to God, and I mean that both spatially and temporally. I use the word “present” acknowledging both uses of the word: present in the sense of “the word you say to the teacher during roll call,” and present in the sense of “events happening now.” (Also the third meaning, present as “gift” fits in here somewhere.)
Thus, what we perceive as a far off future end of the road is constantly trickling and tumbling into our present, giving us strength and courage to continue the journey. This trickling and tumbling of God’s eternal presence might by a definition of grace.
So the end is far off, and the end is also very near…
Dear God, you are the foundation of earth and heaven, of space and time. Grant me the grace to see your presence tumbling from your eternity into my daily walk with you. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, rejoicing that you walk with me on the road, you stand at the end of the road, and you, indeed, are the road.