Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Obstacles along the way

By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published May 29, 2015

“Brothers and sisters:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
1 Cor 1:22-25

Any journey, no matter how well planned, will involve obstacles along the way. They arise as surprises along the roads of life. There are no warning signs or detours around them. We hopefully learn to deal with them when they arise and, in the best of circumstances, learn from them.

Life is a journey toward God. Most of us learn from our earliest years the things we need to keep moving on this life’s path to the good and divine things that await us at the end of the road, the end of time.

The roads of our experience are no different from the roads beneath our feet when it comes to disconcerting things, people and events that appear and do not fit within our expectations. Troubles arise. The rains come. People not to our liking emerge before us, flesh and blood stumbling blocks on life’s hoped for primrose lane.

These stumbling blocks are the presence of God in our midst. They are his calling cards scattered along the highways of life. We move along, hoping that some sense of God will become clearer the more we advance in our years and alleged wisdom, and yet all along God has been intruding in our carefully marked map, kind of like a rude and stubborn pest that won’t go away until we get the message that he is here, with us, with all of us.

We assume that we need strength, pleasant company, the best weather for the long road to Paradise. Yet God seemingly thinks and acts very differently. He walks beside us in the lives of the weak, the unsavory. He lives and thrives in lousy weather.

Life is like a circus. We want the best seats in the arena when all the while God is best seen in the sideshow, the human menagerie.

Many years ago I was asked to officiate at a wedding. All through the preparations, the bride-to-be repeatedly asked me to make sure I prayed for beautiful weather on the day of her wedding. I guess God was out of his office when I sent the messages heavenward. The wedding day arrived and so did the rain. The bride was beside herself. She was crying, saying the rain had ruined her day. I remember telling her that the wedding would be fine, and that the rains would pass, and that she should try to learn something from all that water. That there will be days when she and her husband would have to learn to handle deluges of a very different sort and the best way to get ready for them was to let the rain be rain.

God does not send sunshine or rain to this wedding that is life. He arrives in them. He is as well in all the guests, even in those we would have preferred not to invite.

Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. His books are available at the monastery web store at