I’ve been thinking a lot about “God’s Will” lately. And by “lately”, I mean since I was a young girl.
As a “cradle” Catholic, I’ve heard the phrase “God’s Will” as long as I can remember. It’s been ingrained into my mind with a sharp chisel.
Over the years, I’ve seen and heard many a variation of the meanings of “God’s Will”.
Some have said God’s Will means God has predestined everything, set every single part of our story in His “book”. Every action, every step, every breath we take. All pre-planned.
Others say “God’s Will” is more like an outline, a rough sketch of how He’d like things to go in our life, and a general idea of how we will live but nothing hard and fast or without room for any re-writing.
We often hear a variation of one of those in one way or another and in various circumstances.
We pray that “God’s Will be done” and passively use it as an explanation for what has already transpired – “Well, it must have been God’s Will”.
I struggle with this. My brain groans and my soul stretches as I try to understand and discern what “God’s Will” is exactly? And how do I know if and how I’m following “God’s Will”?
I agonize over whether I’m doing what He Wills or if I’m completely daft and am shooting at the wrong goal and then asking for His High Fives after “my amazing dunk”.
Paralyzed, I sometimes stare at the ceiling…or a glowing screen…desperately searching, hoping to find His Will written out verbatim in HUGE BLINKING LETTERS – maybe even some loud and and ceremonious trumpets as accompaniment just to make it crystal clear this message is indeed from God Himself and not more of my neurotic delusions.
The back-and-forth dialogue in my mind drives me bonkers.
If “God’s Will” meant that He has already pre-planned everything we’ll ever do, then that basically takes all the work out of for me. In that case, I guess ascribing to this mindset would be the easier way to go. If everything is already planned for me then why bother trying to figure out what His Will for me is? That takes care of stressful decision making!
On the other hand…
If I blame everything that ever happens to me or others on “God’s Will” then I would understand why many see God as a selfish and vengeful ‘god’ and not an all loving and merciful one.
Sometimes I wonder if we all complicate God’s Will, making it harder than it is. Obviously I do.
Maybe God doesn’t have multiple “Wills” for each of us. Maybe there is only one “Will” and each of us is part of this Will in our own unique ways and relative to our own circumstances and choices.
Here’s what I’m thinking as my the thoughts tumble out through my keyboard-tapping fingers:
In its simplest form, God’s Will is for the salvation of souls. He Wills all souls to be with Him in permanent and eternal happiness. That’s all.
That may sound too easy but the more I think and pray about it, the more sense it makes. It really is that simple.
But what does that mean for me? How do I “follow God’s Will” in my life? What do I do?
Well, to make things even simpler, I follow God’s Will by embracing His salvation and by participating in His work of salvation.
Stop and think about that a little.
He wants us – sinful humans – to participate and help Him save all souls?
That’s quite the job He’s asking of us. We know He doesn’t really need our help. He’s all powerful so He could just sign an Executive Order and open His Heavenly Gates to all of us.
But He doesn’t.
Not because He can’t or doesn’t want to or because people wouldn’t vote for Him if He did. (I’m pretty sure everyone would vote for Him though.)
He invites us to be His partners in the salvation of Souls. He chooses us as His partners, His ambassadors to all people. He wants to accomplish His Will with us and through us. He chooses to do His work of salvation with Him.
Our only job is to say, Yes. Yes to his invitation to participate in His Will of Salvation. If we offer every part of our lives to the fulfillment of this one goal, the salvation of all souls, then we follow His Will.
There are two people I think of who knew and understood this and truly lived God’s Will.
2. St. John the Baptist
Mary is the epitome of following God’s Will. An angel came to her, told her God chose her (out of ALL women ever) to be the mother of God. Her response? Tell me what you need me to do and I will do as you ask. (Luke 1:38)
She had no idea exactly how this was going to happen, no idea of the full scale of what this meant, she couldn’t know everything that would happen and what she would have to endure. It didn’t matter. She knew this was part of God’s Will – part of the “salvation of all souls”. So she said Yes. Simple. And everything she did from that moment (and probably the ones leading up to it) was done in service to this work of salvation, God’s Will.
John the Baptist. Before he was even born, he knew. He knew what his purpose and mission in life was: Prepare the way of the Lord – for the salvation of souls. God’s Will.
He went out into the dessert, wore dead animal skin, and ate bugs. And he waited. And waited. And waited. He knew it was all part of God’s Will – part of the great work of the salvation of souls. He didn’t question it. He just obeyed and trusted that what he was doing was for this greater purpose. He didn’t need to figure out how exactly this would be done. He just did his part and knew God would take care of the rest. And He did.
Slowly, I’m getting it. Slooooowwwlly. God is very patient with me and knows I can only take one teeny tiny wobbly baby step at a time.
It starts with knowing and understanding that His Will is big. It’s HUGE. Colossal. It’s also simple.
Save All Souls: Bring them to Heaven and provide Eternal and Complete Happiness for All.
I’m still trying to figure out the where and the how of how exactly I’m supposed to help Him accomplish this. I think if I stay focused on the basics of what His Will is, then all the details will fall into place.
What does “God’s Will” mean to you and how do you follow God’s Will in your life?