Have you heard the concept of “putting a fleece before the Lord?” It appears in the book of Judges, when Gideon demanded undeniable proof of God’s will and God’s intention to live up to his promises. He directed God to make a fleece wet while the surrounding ground stayed dry, and then vice versa, before he would act on God’s word. He clearly didn’t trust God. He wasn’t willing to take a risk, as failure might cost him. He wanted certitude.
Fast forward almost 1200 years, and similarly, people kept asking Jesus for a sign. Despite hearing of his miracles, they wanted to see one (or more) for themselves before believing him. Only with undeniable proof would they act. Jesus rightly refused to play that game. We could distance ourselves from these stories, except another 2000 years after Jesus, we persist in doing the same things.
For instance, I assumed God’s will was a road map laying out every decision I should make – what college to go to, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, and on and on. When faced with a decision, especially a major one, I searched for signs and confirmations. I begged God to write on the wall, so I’d know for sure, and was filled with angst when I wasn’t certain. I didn’t trust enough to step out in faith and make a decision. I didn’t trust that even if I made a mistake, God would be there to help good come out of it. I didn’t trust God to hold me up, guide me, and support me all along my life’s journey wherever it led. Oh, ye of little faith!
I’m trying to do better. When I practice contemplative prayer and sit still before God, my heart becomes more in tune with the Divine melody and I gain courage to act on the promptings coming from my heart. Are they from God? I don’t know for sure. If they are from God and I don’t act, I’m stifling God’s will in my life. If they are not from God, I’m still trying to do God’s will and I know God honors that. Besides, I’m convinced now that God’s will is not a laundry list of decisions I am divinely directed to make. Instead, there are many paths I can take and still be living God’s will. As long as my motivations, values, and goals are centered in the Gospel, love of God, and a desire to do God’s will, God brings resurrection, joy, and purpose into my life, ultimately guiding me to become the best Amy that I can be.
As St. Augustine said: “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” That is way more comforting than a wet fleece!
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/.