When I first came back to Faith after years of hedonistic behavior, I discovered the reality of ‘God’s Will’ and became obsessed with it. Unfortunately, not in a good way, but in an overly scrupulous way. I remember praying over whether or not it was God’s Will to word a text message to my crush a certain way or if I would displease God if I got my hair cut.
While the intention of wanting to please God was good, my method of carrying it out was not. I was overthinking and stressing over life, which did not bring me the peace that God desired to give me. I know that I am not alone in this as I have heard many others share similar experiences with me.
So if the intention of seeking God’s Will is good, but the scrupulous method is not, what is the correct manner in discovering what God wants and carrying out His Plan? Looking back on my life and what I have learned from the Scriptures, the Church, and experience, I have come to recognize how we can discern God’s Will and carry it out. For those you in a rush, here’s the breakdown:
First, we need the comforting peace found in understanding God’s Providence. Second, we remember that God can gently guide us with our pure desires to help us know what to do. Thirdly, we were created for freedom and love, so there is a lot more choosing in life than we may think.
Understanding God’s Providence is essential to walk in the peace of the Christian Life and the first thing we can know about it is that God does not will any evil thing whatsoever. He wants only good things, but allows the bad because He knows how to bring the greater good out of the bad. A beautiful, beautiful understanding of God’s Providence is found in the story of the Farmer’s Son. It is an old folktale that illustrates perfectly how different events can have unexpected results and things are not always how they seem. The point is that God providentially brings good out of every choice and event no matter how unfortunate it seems.
Viewing life in this reality truly brings great peace as it takes the weight off of our decision making. It reminds us that if we do our best not to sin and make the right choices, God will bring good out of our lives. There is nothing to fear! Even if something bad happens, we can still find the good in it.
The next reality of discerning God’s Will is that if we are journeying with God in life, we can trust that He is leading us. One way that He does this is by guiding us with our desires. Are you wondering what career choice to make? Well, want to you want to do? Are you deciding what college to go to? Which one do you like the best? Deciding whether it would be God’s Will to ask that girl or boy out? Well, do you like them?
We should be careful with this tool because sometimes we don’t want to do things simply because they are hard. A lot of the time hard things are good for us and are very much God’s Will. Furthermore, at first something might not seem like we would want it, but once we know it better we realize it is good for us. Like I use to think I hated cottage cheese until I tried it. Or you might think you would hate a certain career path until you learn more about it.
So we still need to test things, but if we are truly seeking what God wants and are open to it, He can guide us through our desires. To be honest, that is how God will always work anyway. He never wants to force us against our will. He will make His plan known to us so that we might choose it for ourselves. Which is why we must work on seeking His Will for Him to guide us with our desires.
All of this leads us to the last guiding light we need in order to discover and live out God’s Will. God created us with free will so that we can choose. The purpose of this is for love to exist. Love can never be coerced, but must be chosen. Therefore, God offers us the choice to follow Him or not. On top of that we can choose many other things as well.
This goes back to Garden of Eden where God gave Adam and Eve several fruit trees to eat from except one. We can imagine that they had maybe 30 options and then one fruit that was not an option. There is so much freedom in that! Similarly, we have the same with the ten commandments. We have so many choices in life that are 100% great and 10 commandments that are not allowed.
We are not meant to be blind robots programmed to only do what we are told. We are meant to choose to respond to God with Love and seek His plan for us. And at every moment in our lives we have a choice.
God wants us to choose in life. He will guide us according to His plan, even let us know if there are better options for us. For me He let my wife and I know that He wanted us to get married through my seeking His will in praying a novena to St. Terese of Lisieux. (You can listen to this story told in our Zenith Ministries Podcast - God is the Best Wingman S1 E5 ). And yet He still offers us many choices. If we seek Him, He will guide us.
Therefore, we can approach Him with trust and abandonment knowing that He is always working for our good. He desires what is best for us and will lead us to what He wants. His plan for us is to live in freedom and this freedom brings peace, not fear and stress. Be open to what God wants and move forward in life with immense Joy and Confidence.