I was visiting a friend who has an apartment in an independent living facility. She is experiencing health issues and has limited ability to get around. Over and over she wonders and asks the questions: “Why am I still on this earth? What am I to do with the remainder of my days? What does God still have in mind for me to accomplish?” However, what you have to know is that she leads the rosary for a small prayer group, prepares the room for a weekly Catholic Sunday prayer service, speaks frequently with others about her Catholic faith and has made it her mission to consciously approach those around her with compliments, a smiling face and a positive attitude. What more is God wanting of her? For me, she has the answer to her questions already. I would consider her to be a perfect example of doing God’s will in the way she is able right where she is!
But her questions can often be our questions as well. At any stage of our lives we need to address the same issues as this woman. We are confronted with every day “What should I do?” and “What is God wanting of me?” questions. God has a personal plan for each of us beyond being just a good human being. But God doesn’t tell us what to do in a vision nor in a voice from heaven. We have to seek and accept God’s grace as we attempt to uncover the plan for our lives. A spiritual writer has three main suggestions to do this: 1) Be aware of what God is asking of us. 2) Have the desire to do it and 3) Pray about it before carrying it out. He suggests that we repeat over and over through the day, “Lord, I want what you want.”
Bishop Barron, in giving a presentation on this topic reminded us that we all wonder what God really wants us to do with our lives. We all want to know “How can I be faithful to God in my day to day circumstances?” “This is,” he says, “a normal part of a good Christian’s life.” But Barron doesn’t leave us hanging with that information only. He unpacks his statement by pointing out the goal of living God’s plan. He clearly tells us that one important goal must be to find the path of greatest love and be willing to take the steps that will go beyond our own satisfaction and that will address the good of others. Barron would have us ask ourselves: What path of our lives will open up the greatest capacity for love? That is God’s will! Someone, in speaking about God’s will, referred to God as the Almighty Father who oversees our choices to accomplish God’s plan, Jesus who exemplified carrying out God’s will, and God, the Holy Spirit who works through our choices to help us understand what best leads us on the path of love for others. It is the Spirit that guides us as participators in what God want us to accomplish. Finally, if we are serious about seeking God’s will Barron tells us to turn to Scripture, the Mass and prayer as our sources of inspiration and direction. Through these, he says, we receive a sense of peace, joy and satisfaction.
There are so many inspirational words about God’s will that have been spoken and written down through the course of history. More recently a Sunday homilist listed some important things to consider in making decisions regarding God’s will. He pointed out that each one’s life will have both open and closed doors. By that he meant that certain times or circumstances influence what we can do or not do, what is possible and prudent in pursuing a certain direction. When the door seems open God’s plan for us is waiting to be undertaken. When the door seems closed we must pray and wait for the Spirit to guide us. We can also look to the words of Bishop Fulton Sheen and allow them to inspire and guide us. He reminded his listeners that when God wants us to move in a certain direction, God will often inspire some level of desire that brings us joy. Mother Teresa wrote: “In looking to do God’s will never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and start with the person nearest you. God doesn’t require that you succeed; God only requires that you try.” Aristotle defined our goal or fulfillment of God’s plan saying, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross there lies your purpose in life.” Lastly, unknown writers reminded us to pray that , “Thy will be done with my talents, with my circle of influence, with the opportunities that are laid out in front of me to bless the world.” They also laid down a caution to us. In seeking God’s will there may be some twists and turns along the way but we cannot forget that “God has a plan for each of us even when we don’t — so sit back and have faith in his timing. Until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway.”
Sister Lauretta Leipzig