The last thing [Howard Thurman] said before I left was probably the single most important bit of advice I ever got about being a man. “Sam,” he said, “there are two questions a man must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you ever get these questions in the wrong order you are in trouble.”

Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, p.11

I have thought this to be good advice from the first moment I read it 20 years ago, though I have not always had the wit to follow it.

There is, however, a question that is prior to these two: Who will I go with? I am sure Howard Thurman knew this. It must have been second nature to him, implicit; a question he had asked, and answered, long before this conversation.

Who will you go with?

You want to know what you should do. You turn to God for an answer to the first of Thurman’s questions: “God, what do You want me to do? Where do You want me to go? How should I live?”

If anyone knows what you should do, surely it is God.

But you cannot know what God wants before you know God. Discernment is predicated on relationship. It is the relationship that matters.

Who will you go with?

O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.

Richard of Chichester

Knowing and loving preceed following. Only follow one you know and love.

But God turns the tables: in looking to God, you find God looking right back. This would be terrifying – for who can bear such a look? – but for the realisation that this is a look of infinite tenderness and loving desire for you.

Do not dodge that look. It is in God’s loving gaze you come to know yourself. Then, surprise, surprise, you know where you need to go, and what you have to do.

Do not pray to know what God wants of you. Pray to know God. Let God show you yourself.

2 thoughts on “R.T.F.Q.

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