More Grist for the Mill

The Title Says it All...

”What Lies Ahead I Have No Way of Knowing”

Like so many others over the last 24 hours, I have followed the story of Tom Petty’s heart attack, final hours, and the news of his death with a sense of great sadness, not just because of a man dying relatively young (66 is not as old as it used to be!) No, my sadness comes because I enjoyed many of his songs, and the message in so many of them expressed precisely and at times poignantly basic human emotions we all feel at one time or another in this thing called life. (Not to mention that as a child of the ’80’s and into my college years in the mid-’90’s, he made some memorable videos for back when MTV used to actually show music videos which still stick in my mind.)

As is the case at the end of a superstar musician’s career, today there will be lots of discussion about his discography, and which one was ‘the best.’ A truly neat thing about a man as creative and talented as Mr. Petty is there is so much from which to choose over the years that narrowing it down to ‘the best’ is simply impossible, and, ultimately a futile exercise. However, whether in his solo work, with The Heartbreakers, or his very creative supergroup The Traveling Wilburys (a personal favorite of mine), there seems to be something for everyone.

My personal favorite of all of his works comes from his Wildflowers album – a song titled, “Time to Move On.” Ever since the first time I heard it, I have had a copy in my personal music library, for this simple, guitar-based song captures the essence of what I believe to be what hold so many back from fully diving into God’s grace in Christ – the idea of wanting or choosing to stay stuck in our current situation rather than understand that God has a much better future in store for our lives, if only we would move on. The operative lyrics?

Which way to something better / Which way to forgiveness / Which way do I go
It’s time to move on, time to get going / What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing / It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going

At the end of the day, God’s word to us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is simply to trust that no matter where we go, no matter what we may experience, God’s divine presence is with us through the journey. We are not called to know exactly what lies ahead, but we know that God does not call us to stand still. Jesus did not say to his disciples, “Y’all stay there and don’t change a thing.” No, Jesus’ call was simply this, “Follow me.” They had no way of knowing what was to come – they just knew that Christ told them it was time to move on, time to get going.

From what is God calling you to move on, even if you do not have any way of knowing what lies ahead?

About Lamar Oliver

I am a Christian, husband, father, and United Methodist pastor who is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University (Accounting) and Asbury Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity) in my 18th year of full-time ministry.