Thursday, August 29, 2019

God's Will

As a parent, there have been countless times with each of my three children where my interactions with them were nothing more than either side repeating his/her thoughts incessantly.

"Daddy, I don't want to brush my teeth!"

"If you have teeth, you have to brush them."

"But, I don't want to brush my teeth!"

 "If you have teeth, you have to brush them."

The volume of either line might increase. Maybe the pace of delivery quickens or slows. There might even be tears associated with what is said. But, the content remains the same.

In many ways, I think this interplay is similar to the way that I've interact with God as of late, or maybe forever. And, maybe, like a good parent, or least one that is much better than I am, maybe this is the way that God has chosen to respond to me...or maybe not. It's God's response back to me that has me puzzled. 

At various points in my life, I have had many conversations with God about His will for my life. In most cases, those conversations have been incredibly one sided.

I've told God that I want to know His will for my life.

I've asked God what His will for my life is.

I've offered to God what His will for my life should be.

I've prayed for the wisdom, courage, and strength to know, follow and see to the end whatever His will for me is.

And, despite some whispers, some fleeting breakthroughs of grace, I often don't think I've heard God's reply. Does this mean that I'm not following His will for me? Does this mean I'm not praying hard enough, or often enough, or the right prayers? Does it mean that I'm doing His will and His silence is His way of saying, "Yes. Now go and do it."

But, over the past few weeks and days, I've had some glimpses of how I may be able to find an answer.

The first is in the form of the lead singer for the band Tenth Avenue North, Mike Donehey. Mike recently published a book titled, "Finding God's Life for My Will". I haven't read it yet, but Mike's main premise is that instead of asking God what His will is for our lives, we should ask how we need to change so that we can more closely align our lives to His. In Mike's own words, "God's not after our success, He's after our surrender. He's not after our achievements, He's after our hearts."

St. Theresa of Calcutta had a similar message:

“God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”

Stop worrying about God's will and start following the life of Jesus. God's will for me is that I come to know, love, and serve Him. The best way that I can do that is to be as faithful as I can to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

I can find God's will for my life by putting the life of God in every ounce of my will. 

Another lead came in the form of a question I recently heard posed by a Catholic consulting group to an organization using its services, "How do you discern God's will?"

At face value, this question seems really deep and philosophical. My initial response was, "I have no idea! If I knew that is all that I would do. Ever!" 

But, after my quick frustration subsided, I realized that the question can be much more practical. What am I doing in my life to discern God's will? What habits, practices, behaviors afford God the opportunity to reveal to me His plan? 

The Mass, frequently receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, reading scripture, praying the Rosary, listening to podcasts about the faith, enjoying Christian music like Tenth Avenue North, spending time in silent prayer, performing service to others, sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, dialoguing with other disciples, studying Church teaching, keeping a gratitude journal, doing an examination of conscience, praying novenas...

Our rich faith tradition offers many pathways for God's grace to break through our lives. Having a handful that are used for the purpose of discerning God's will can offer Him avenues to reach us.

He doesn't want our success. He doesn't want our accomplishments.

He wants us to be faithful. He wants our hearts.

He wants us.

He constantly pursues us, trying to find ways for grace to interrupt us and turn us toward Him, closer to Him.

God's will for my life is that I give my life to Him. In doing so and by engaging in practices to actively discern His will, I will find God's life for my will.

And, I will find God's will for my life.

I will find God's will.

I will find God.

I will.