“When we last saw our hero, he was in the midst of danger and mayhem . . .” begins the narrated script of many of the old-time radio melodramas.
With the many adventures I write about, I sometimes imagine you reading this column in the narrator’s tone of these old shows.
But, rather than sounding heroic, my script would sound something like this:
Narrator: “When we last left our hapless hero, he’d dropped his hat in the toilet . . .” or “He actually volunteered to go to Iraq . . ” or “He got in trouble with his wife again.”
Judging from e-mail response to last month’s column, this week’s narration could begin:
Narrator: “When we last left our dunderheaded hero, he was being rude to the underpaid restaurant staff who discarded the 12-page speech he left on the restaurant table.”
If you wrote one of those e-mails, you might see what happened next as some kind of cosmic payback for the bad karma I spread at the restaurant.
Let’s continue with the story:
Narrator: “After returning to the hotel from the restaurant, satisfied that he’d sufficiently bullied the restaurant manager into reprinting his speech, our hero was so frazzled that he left his GPS on the seat and forgot to lock his rental car.
“Sometime while our hero was fast asleep, a thief stole his GPS from his rental car, leaving our hero directionless for his drive to Mansfield, Ohio, the following morning. Unwilling to become directionless while driving a car with Michigan plates on the day of Ohio State’s big game with arch-rival Michigan, our hero was forced to give up his hard-earned book profits to buy a new GPS.”
Not so much. The new GPS speaks an impressive list of languages. If you choose English, you have a choice of accents: British, Australian or Midwest American.
Unfortunately, the unit didn’t have the voice I really needed, the voice of God.
After all, Christian tradition teaches that God gave directions to Moses from the Burning Bush, to Balaam from a donkey and to Paul from a blinding light.
In the 21st century, I think God ought to speak to us through a GPS. GPS could stand for, “God Pushing the Saints.” If there were such a GPS, we could program our life journey to steer away from the dangers of anger and jealousy and set a course straight for integrity and grace.
Judging from reader e-mail last month, I definitely could have used a God GPS during my trouble at the Ohio restaurant.
But, short of such a miraculous GPS, here’s the deal I make with my readers: I will continue to write about “Spirituality in Everyday Life,” emphasis on everyday, not just the good days.
That means I’ll continue to write about my failures in the situations mentioned in previous columns, professional and personal.
I make this commitment because I’m not writing about life in a monastery or in the sanctuary. I write about the world we share, a world of temptations, frustrations and transgressions. While I know it helps to read columns that give decisive answers, I also believe it helps to read that someone else struggles and stumbles with some of the same issues we all deal with.
Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul would encourage his readers to work out your faith with fear and trembling. Or, as the message translation puts it, “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God.”
So, no matter how many times you read this column, rest assured you often will read, “The last time we saw our hero, he had gotten himself in another fine mess, but fortunately, God is still granting him the grace to make his way through the messes.”
Burkes is a former civilian hospital chaplain and an Air National Guard chaplain. Writenorris@thechaplain.net or visit thechaplain.net. You can also follow him on Twitter, username is “chaplain,” or on Facebook at facebook.com/norrisburkes.