I’ve always had a deep desire to do God’s will. In my youth, I believed it was to my benefit because if I obeyed and was a “good girl,” I’d please God and be rewarded with good things. I gradually learned the error of that child-like belief. There are indeed rewards in doing God’s will, but it definitely doesn’t mean I will get what I want or be healthy, rich, and showered with love!
There was another error that was harder to discern and release. I’d been taught that I need to sacrifice what I want and forego my personal desires in order to do God’s will, and I was determined to be saintly and spiritual enough to do so. Yet to justify abandoning my own desires, I had to be pretty darn certain what God wanted! So come on, God – give me the list of decisions I should make and what I should do! I longed for God to write on walls or appear in a dream or vision. I searched high and low, thinking I had to find it “out there” somewhere.
But as scripture says, God’s will is not out there, that I should send someone across the sea or into the sky to bring it to me. No, I was created with God’s will written into the fibers of my heart. And it isn’t a list of decisions or a specific path; it is whatever most genuinely helps me become who God created me to be.
To uncover God’s will, then, I have to go deep within myself in prayer and contemplation and listen to the whispers of my Creator written in the deepest desires of my soul. I need to discover my truest gifts, the ones that make me uniquely me, and use them as fully as possible. God desires that I live from the core of my being with all my heart, and God’s will is whatever leads me there.
Yet that path is rarely made clear. It requires constant prayer and openness, the input of others, and the willingness to change and grow even when it hurts. I often struggle, sometimes mightily and for some time, to know if I’m doing the right thing. I gain solace from Thomas Merton, who wrote:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
May we grow in trust, openness, and willingness to follow God’s will to the best of our ability in all we do.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.