Quo Vadis – Where Are You Going?

A Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” Its modern usage is attributed to a passage from early Christian writings called “The Acts of Peter.” Upon the urging of his friends, Peter leaves Rome to avoid being captured and killed. As he was leaving, he saw a risen Jesus returning to Rome. Peter said, “Domine Quo Vadis” or “Where are you going, Lord?” Jesus replied that He was returning to Rome to be crucified again. When Peter realized that his life was being asked of him, he returned to Rome instead, joyous that he had been deemed worthy to be martyred.

In searching for the definition of this Latin phrase, one of the links asked. “What made you search for this?” Allow me to start at the caboose and work my way to the steam engine of this train of thought.

There is an episode of M*A*S*H, called “Quo Vadis Captain Chandler”, where a bombardier came to the hospital and believed he was Jesus Christ. The psychiatrist explained that something in this soldier had changed. He realized he was not a killer, he was Christ. The soldier said he didn’t know this Captain Chandler, but he hoped they could find him and help him. So much truth in that.

What brought this to mind, was a discussion that Dr. Freedman had with “Jesus”. The psychiatrist asked if God answers all prayers. Captain Chandler as “Jesus” said, with tears in his eyes, “Yes, but sometimes the answer is no”.

I was pondering why certain prayers seem to go unanswered in this age of instant gratification, fast food and movies on demand. I once heard that there are two answers to prayer: “Yes” and “No, but wait, I have a better idea.” Yet this morning, as I held an electronic wealth of information in the palm of my hand, a quote came through social media that changed my perspective.

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.” C.S. Lewis.

It’s not just “No and be patient”, it’s more like a loving look saying, “Be at peace, my child. You don’t understand what I am doing in your life right now.” A comforting thought when I am a bit disappointed that things have not happened on my terms.

As I considered the whispers floating around in my brain, another reinforcing hint came to mind. Many times, God has spoken to me through the talents of Steven Curtis Chapman and today was no different. His song “Higher Ways” is a sobering reminder that the ways of God are not like our own. It is based on a passage from Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8

So I don’t always understand, and that’s okay . . . for now.

This train seems to be all over the track, so when does it finally pull into the station? Just as God is the Alpha and Omega, this journey ends where it began. “Quo Vadis”. Where am I going? Steven Curtis Chapman probably said it best:

“But until I’m with You I’ll be here with a heart that is true
And a soul that’s resting on      Your higher ways”

 Restless, but still resting on His higher ways.
And Blessed in Great Measure.

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