Why is it so hard to know God’s will for our lives? Often we pray, “God show me your will.” As a community we say “Thy will be done” when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. And yet we still wonder what God would have us do with our life, especially if we are facing a big decision and are unsure about how the choice we make will impact our future.
In discerning the will of God, prayer is indeed the place to start. Our first prayer should be “Lord, make me willing to do your will.” What good is it to know God’s will if we wouldn’t follow it anyway? The second prayer we pray is “Lord, show me where I know your will and yet do not do it.” Then it’s time to do some honest self reflection and inventory. You see, we already do know God’s will (at least some of it) and we don’t do it.
For instance, we know (because Jesus told us in Matthew 5:44) that God’s will is for us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us and pray for those who hatefully use us; but, so many times our speech, thoughts and even our Social Media posts reveal that we ignore that direction and instead express our “righteous” indignation, distaste or dis-gust towards those who have done things we find despicable.
In Micah 6: 8, we are told that God’s will is loving mercy, doing justice and walking humbly with God. We likely show mercy to members of our families when they “step on our toes,” but how much charity do we muster for the one who cut us off in traffic? When it comes to doing justice, we are all for it as long as it means we get a promotion or benefit that we think we deserve or if someone guilty of a crime is punished. But is that all justice entails? Aren’t there others who would benefit from a promotion or benefit as much as we would? Does punishing the guilty mean that harm is repaired or victims are healed? What about the injustice caused by bias, prejudice, or the unfair con-sumption/distribution of resources? How do we care for “the least of these” that so captured Jesus’ attention? And then there is humility. Do we truly understand that every time we look down on, ridicule, or negate somebody else’s point of view, we are displaying a lack of humility?
The self-reflection we do should lead us to confession and then repentance. True repentance is not simply feeling sorry for deeds we have done or failed to do. True repentance is turning from old ways of thinking; traditional ways of understanding; common assumptions we have. It is, as the Proverb indicates, trusting God with all we are as opposed to leaning not unto our own understanding. Why would we expect God to direct us in our big decisions if we do not follow God’s direction in our everyday lives?
Luke 16:10 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” So let us be faithful in our witness for Christ in word and in deed; being kind and compassionate in our dealings with others, working for justice; and helping those less fortunate in material goods. While doing all this, we remain diligent in prayer and worship, thanking God for our many blessings, and trusting God to reveal our next steps when we are ready.
—Rev. Lynn McLaughlin