Paul begins his First letter to the Corinthians (today’s first reading) by describing himself as “Paul, called by God’s will to be an apostle…”
By God’s will. God’s will is woven into the current of Christian life – Paul’s, yours and mine.
The same idea is on our lips in the Psalm response; “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.” John and Jesus certainly did that. We can see how they engaged God’s will in the Gospel.
Most of us find God’s will a mystery. If we think about it at all, we push God’s will out there – remote, fixed, hard as a rock, unyielding, a certainty against which to match our lives . Yet life as we experience it is so uncertain. We don’t know what this decade will bring. We don’t know if our finances are secure, if the discovery of love will lead to the fullness of love, if our bodies and minds will withstand devastating illness. We don’t know if our country will stand firm on its constitutional foundation and have the courage to choose leadership and reshape national policy for the sake of life. There we have it. Uncertainty interwoven with God’s will.
In the midst of own personal uncertainty about so many aspects of life, how do we recognize God’s will guiding us but not dictating how we live?
Here are five notions that might help. They are not answers but thoughts to encourage us.
1. Important decisions about our lives often come to us unbidden. Have you ever prayed by day, and the answer came during the night, or in a song on the radio, or on the lips of a stranger?
2. We are given the gifts and resources to do God’s will. Have you looked at some closed chapter of your life and wondered how you ever did what was necessary?
3. Often, by the fruits of our decisions and actions, we can conclude we are doing God’s will.
4. I believe I am doing God’s will when I am no longer the center of my world, and I keep my place in the universe in perspective.
5. As I try to determine in my ever changing, fragile world what this elusive thing called God’s will is, I am part of a community of believers who help, sustain and challenge me in the process.
We have no neat answer to the question,“How do I know I am doing God’s will?,” but the response is written in your heart and mine, even as it was expressed in John and Jesus and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. God’s will is nothing to be resisted. It is the way to life.
-Sister Joan Sobala