In a TV commercial a harried housewife/mom with a cell phone to her ear and screaming children running around while she talks with an investment salesperson asks, “What’s that green line that just appeared on my kitchen floor?”
A similar question is posed by a man who sees a green line on the sidewalk while out on the street with a salesperson.
“That’s your guidance system from such-and-such investment company. Just stay on that line!” we hear in the voiceover.
The man starts following it, hesitates to gaze as a shiny new car in a salesroom window, glances back and catches the eye of the salesperson. “Just stay on the line!” he is reminded again with a smile. The man resumes his trek along the trusty green line.
We all constantly need guidance in life. Too bad it isn’t as easy as finding a green line and following it with confidence. Or following the Yellow Brick Road as Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz. Or the red brick “Freedom Trail” on Boston streets that leads you without fail to famous historic sites. Or the colored lines on the floors of some hospitals that lead you to different destinations and keep you from asking directions repeatedly.
Most of the driving members of my family have the GPS installed in their vehicles and listen obediently to a robotic voice while watching the ever shifting lines on the small screen that lead them where they want to go. (This is a special boon for men in general who are well known for never wanting to stop and ask directions, a trait that drives their women folk bananas!) Paper road maps that you unfolded to plan your journey or AAA Trip-Tiks which did the work for you seem to be obsolete.
Far more serious is the guidance we all need for our life’s journey, long range and day by day. A nice, plain green or yellow or red line would be nice, but it’s not that simple. Christians do, however, have a faithful, multi-level guidance system literally at their beck and call. We don’t have to get lost or go astray and continually make U-turns to get back on track. The inspired Scriptures, our Catholic Church, the Magisterium, and the Holy Spirit are all available to help form our conscience. A well-formed conscience is far more reliable than the GPS robotic voice.
If we come to a crossroad in life where we have some doubt as to which way we should take, Scripture promises, “If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) Most of us spend a lot of time at those crossroads of life trying to make decisions. There is no penalty or shame for asking for guidance from our Heavenly Father who wants to guide us even more than we want to be guided.
Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to “guide us into all truth.” Mother Church, faithful to Jesus’ teachings, helps provide that guiding line through the Sacraments. We simply need to stay on that line! If we take our eyes off of eternal values and revealed truth, the Tempter and his evil minions are prowling about just waiting to take us by the hand and lead us elsewhere. If we stay on the line, we are safe.
David declared in the familiar twenty-third Psalm, “He [God] guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.” In Psalm 25:4 we can join David to pray, “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth….” In fact, the Psalms are loaded with petitions for clear guidance. There is hardly anything repeated more often throughout Scripture than instructions on how to be led by the Lord. God doesn’t want us to miss His green line.
Isn’t it amazing that all someone needs to do is speak your name over the phone and among all the voices in the world you know immediately who it is? In the Good Shepherd chapter, John ten, Jesus told us that He calls His own sheep by name and leads them; they don’t follow a stranger because they don’t recognize a stranger’s voice. Jesus referred to us as sheep; they are stupid animals we are told.
But each sheep is still smart enough to recognize the shepherd’s voice and obey when he calls its name. We need to train our ears to be sure we are hearing Jesus’ voice and not the competing voices of the world, or our own fleshly desires, or the devil’s false promises. The greater intimacy we enjoy with Christ, the more experience we have walking with Him on our life’s journey, the more we will be able to distinguish His voice from among the others.
The green line on the street in the investment commercial was not a straight line; it zigzagged. So does our path in life with its ups and downs, its crooked ways and potholes. Before the GPS will function, the destination had to be punched in. Our spiritual destination likewise is locked in as Heaven, our Eternal Home, and the glorious Presence of God. Our Guardian Angel is simply fulfilling his lifelong assignment when he keeps reminding us, “Just stay on God’s green line!”
That may simply be a way of saying, "Stay in the state of God's grace," "looking unto Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith."