Tag Archives: John the Baptist

Chances are

“It grabbed me and would not let me go,” a man said during a radio interview. I don’t remember what he was talking about, but I resonated with the phrase. So often, a word or image grabs me and sticks like glue, whirling around my mind and intruding into my thoughts for days or even weeks.

Recently, the phrase chances are has taken hold of me. First a friend mentioned she was reading a book by that title. Over the next few days, I heard the song by Johnny Mathis—not once but twice—and then those two words were used in a sermon. Chances are.

Being mindful for me means paying attention to this kind of thing. Being mindful means noticing what I notice, and I noticed this phrase. Why? What invitation is it offering to me? What meaning does it hold for me?

Johnny Mathis sang this dreamy love song in the 1950’s, and I only recall the first line.


Google tells me that the phrase means that something is likely to happen but is not certain.

So what is likely to happen in my life? Or is the emphasis more on what is not certain?

At random times, this phrase pops into my mind, unbidden and seemingly unconnected to anything that is happening at that moment. It has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go.

I pray for insight and guidance. I want to be open to what is likely to happen. I want to be receptive.

We have entered the season of Advent, a time of anticipation and watchful waiting. It is the perfect time to ponder the words, phrases and images that catch my attention and stay with me.

Last weekend, I officiated at a wedding, and before the ceremony, the young man who was reading from 1 Corinthians told me he had practiced the reading that morning and one line jumped out at him.


“I kept reading and re-reading that line,” he said, his voice marveling at what almost seemed like magic to him. “I love that line,” he added.

“Perhaps there is an invitation to you in those words,” I suggested.

Chances are this same thing happens to you. What do you make of it when it does? Do you allow the words or images to swirl around you? Do you take time to reflect on what catches your attention?

Like Mary, John the Baptist and the other people in the Advent stories, God reveals something of the divine through our personal life experiences. What grabs us and won’t let go may be part of the process.


Follow the signs

Church parking lots seem to attract people who like to go against the grain—they enter through the exits and exit through the entrances. Signs clearly designating which is an entrance and which is an exit don’t seem to matter. The pastor’s pleas to follow the directional arrows don’t seem to matter. When a car entering through an exit ran into a bicyclist in our church parking lot, I thought for sure that would be enough to change people’s driving practices, but people continued to disregard the signs and go the wrong way.


My suggestion was to install “do not back up” spikes, the kind I’d seen at the exits of rental car lots. I thought that they would definitely keep people from going the wrong way.

As I made that suggestion, I realized I wished I had those spikes installed at different times in my life—times when I was heading in the wrong direction, when I was making a choice that would lead me away from God.



I have been blessed by good friends who felt free enough to warn me that I was heading in the wrong direction, but those warnings were often not enough to stop me—not in the way spikes would have. No, I would often continue along some dangerous path and end up in a disastrous situation.

Why couldn’t I have spikes to stop me? What a life-saver they would have been. Imagine all the pitfalls I could have avoided.


Advent is a time to look at the direction my life is taking, to check and see if I am on the right path, going in the right direction.


John the Baptist and Mary are two prominent figures of Advent, two people who had great clarity about what God was asking of them. Each one stepped up in an extraordinary way to answer God’s call.

One of the things I love about Advent is that it shines a light on how God calls each of us to a particular mission. God did not call John the Baptist to do Mary’s mission nor Mary to do John’s.

I can sometimes be tempted to look at the work of others, to compare myself and ask if I should be doing something else, someone else’s mission. My mission can seem to be less important or impactful than what others are doing. My insecurities nip at me all along the path, reminding me of my inadequacies and failures.

But God calls me to ignore those negative messages and listen for affirmation as a sign that I am on the right path.

God calls me to fulfill my particular mission and trust that it is just what God is asking of me. I only need to stay focused on God’s call and keep moving forward; I simply need to follow the lights along my path. If I can just do that, I don’t need spikes to keep me from going the wrong way.