2. Finding God’s will: does it bring me peace or dread?
In the film Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, the protagonist prays: ‘May God bless and keep the Tsar…far away from us!’ Sometimes that is how we, consciously or unconsciously, look at God and his will for us. It must be a good thing, but I am not so sure I want to know what it is, even less to try it out – it may destabilise me, it may mean some huge sacrifice that will end up by destroying me.
Sometimes we think of God’s will as some sort of sealed orders, an envelope to be opened at one point in our lives, with detailed instructions for every step. We envy Our Lady or St Paul who had messengers from heaven telling them exactly what they should do! Yet we seem to forget that they too had to struggle every day to discover what their God-given mission meant in practice.
A wise man once said, “God’s will is yourself!” How true, when I consider that it was God who made me who I am. When he looks at me he is pleased with what He sees, for He sees His very image and likeness, His adopted son or daughter. It is He who planted the seeds of desire deep in my heart, and that is where I need to look to discover what He wants of me. Rather than carrying out orders, seeking and doing God’s will becomes the fruit of my personal relationship with God, as we work out together what is best for me.
After years of looking for God outside himself, St Augustine exclaimed, “I have been looking for you outside of myself, but I finally found you in my most intimate recesses, in the most intimate of my intimacy.”
What do I really desire in life? What makes me tick? What am I good at? How do I imagine myself happy and fulfilled? Certainly God, my creator, wants me above all to be myself, to realise my potentialities to the full.
Obviously, what lies outside me also helps me understand better what God wants of me: the concrete circumstances of my family, my country, my world, are all pointers towards God’s will for me.
A lot depends on how I look at God, and what image of Him I carry in my heart and in my bones.
◦ “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb… Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalm 139
◦ “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.” – Psalm 119
- Do you agree that God’s will is yourself?
- Do you feel your life at present is close to what God wants of you?
- Do you wish to know better what God wants of you?
- To what extent do you see this as a blessing? Or a threat?
Links – If You Are Looking for God, God Will Find You
I happen to believe that “if you are looking for God, God will find you.” Ignatius of Loyola or Mother Teresa would have likewise believed that even as we are looking, and even when we mostly feel lost, God is somehow finding us, whether or not it feels that way to us. Ignatius believed (as I do) that when we set ourselves toward some worthy purpose that transcends our meager strength, we tap into a source of meaning, strength, peace, and courage that is beyond us. We come to realize, in a graced moment, that we are called to some great purpose, that we cannot do it on our own, but that we don’t have to do it on our own. That’s why Ignatius urges, in one after another of his Spiritual Exercises, that we speak to Jesus “in the way one friend speaks to another.” —Excerpt from Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney
A song: Will you come and follow me?