Thursday, July 23, 2009

God's Will


I often struggle with discerning God's will. What does it sound like when God is trying to tell you something? What does it feel like? I wish I had all of the answers, because I know there are many.

I am sure that a theologian or a clergy member can better answer those questions, maybe not. I just know that as a child of God who is young and less experienced in the "arena of life", this is what it feels like to me. This is my experience. I can be very straightforward, so naturally I would like most things to be straightforward...like, "Hey. It's God. This is what I'm saying..." or like the picture above. God works in mysterious and not so mysterious ways. Sometimes it is so clear and obvious, but more often than not, I find myself striving to better understand (or even just grasp) what God may be trying to tell me.

And then, once we discern the will of God, how do you act on it? You must completely give yourself to God: mind, body, heart, and soul. I too struggle with that. Sometimes it is difficult to just hand the reins over. We're all human, and we like to be in control of things. I think, however, that once we realize who we are handing the reins of our lives over to, it becomes easier. Not that your life will become perfect, but that you know you'll be taken care of by someone who cares for and loves you.

The following reflection helped me a lot, and since I know I'm not the only person to struggle with discerning and following God's will, I want to share it with you:

"In accord with Scripture, Christ did not please Himself." -Romans 15:3

Saintly words: "The greatest gift that we can receive from God in the present world is this: to know how, to desire, and to be able to conquer self by renouncing our own will." -St. Francis of Assisi

Talking with God: Heavenly Father, teach me how to discern Your will, how to follow it, and how to make it my own in all things. For in this lies true happiness both in this world and in the next.

2 comments:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Hello Ashley,

So many times I have that same wondering feeling...even when there is some indication of what it is that God wants, I am not always sure, feel the need to question (I am a skeptic at heart -- and am reassured knowing that Jesus did love St. [Doubting] Thomas).

Upon occasion, however, I have been directly given to know what is expected from me, and that can be quite frightening -- the "guessing" in spite of its frustrations is emotionally somewhat easier (at least, for me). I will, of course, do whatever I am asked. Who would not? (Well, maybe there are some who would not, but that would be pretty foolish, a wonderful opportunity lost no matter how difficult the task might be.) The first time I "hid", thinking there was something wrong with me. I hid for three months, but the task that had been given to me would not leave my head -- and besides, how do you hide from God? Finally, I went to see Fr. Barry, an elderly priest (80 years old and not yet retired) whom I trust and who is incredibly well traveled, well educated, and well experienced. I asked him about the authenticity of my experience, and he grilled me for nearly a half hour and finally suggested that the experience might be authentic. I have since had another priest, who writes about authenticity of God's direct contact, also confirm the experience -- and you had better believe that I am doing as I was told to do! Not because I am frightened. After sharing the experience with Fr. Barry, who concluded that I probably was still sane, I am not hiding.

I think St. Francis held the key and he certainly did get pointed direction. If we give up our own will, then there is room for God's will -- and if there is room for God's will, then God can make known to us what we might ought to be doing for God (or on behalf of God).

But then, one gets back to the daily wondering and not being certain and accepting that God can let us know clearly, unclearly, or seemingly not at all for now. When we do get the gift of knowing, then we need to be grateful (I was, once I got over the questioning of my sanity and the fear/uneasiness that caused), and we need to act. That much, at least, I do know.

Ashley Siferd said...

Thank you Elizabeth. I very much enjoyed your comment. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who struggles sometimes.

I was over at your blog, and it is awesome! I love it and hope to learn much from you and your insight.