Monday, May 5, 2014
What Does God Want Me To Do?
I was going to title this post: Why do people sin? I think that’s the more immediate question, one which must be answered before answering the one above, the one that interests you.
I mentioned to a dear friend a novel I had recently read, Arms of Love by Carmen Marcoux. It is a great read, ideal for serious young Christians. (I plan to give a copy to my Goddaughter on her graduation next month.) The novel focuses on how one Christian girl protects her purity during the process of discerning whether her current suitor is the man meant to be her husband. In today’s culture, this is no easy thing. In the novel, the girl’s father requires suitors to ask his permission to “court” his daughter. “Courting” is deemed a serious discernment process for the young people, each to decide if the other is the one they will commit to in marriage --- for the rest of their life. It is a serious decision indeed. To keep them from being distracted from the discernment process --- and from temptations against purity --- they promise the father to partake in no kissing or touching which might tempt them to sin and distract them from the serious business of discernment.
When I mentioned this to my friend, she laughed.
“Of course young people will be kissing each other” was her mindset. Of course. And therein lies the answer to the question of why people sin: “Of course” they do.
Humor me for a moment, and let’s look at those two words: “of course.” Do you know what they mean? Their meaning is not in the words themselves, because I would ask you: “What course are you referring to?” The words don’t say, but YOU ASSUME what they mean, because you think YOU KNOW. EVERYONE KNOWS!!! … of course. When we say “of course” we are describing how we perceive the world works, for everyone.
We ASSUME: everyone kisses when dating. We assume all kinds of other things too: everyone wants more money, a newer phone, a pretty/handsome spouse, a new car, and certainly for most people: to get to heaven. Of course everyone wants those things!
Since you KNOW this to be true then, let me ask you: “What about Father Steve, standing there on the altar. Do you think he wants all those things or he does all those things?” And you might answer me: “Well, that’s different; he’s a priest.” Ah, so you agree that not EVERYONE wants those things? Father Steve is a unique person with a unique calling, a unique way to live his life --- which he has discerned and committed to.
But aren’t you also a unique person? And doesn’t it follow that your life will be uniquely different than everyone else’s life? Perhaps you are one who might be quick to say: “No one’s walked in my shoes” --- and that would be true! And so, if your life is unique, might it not be in your interests also “to discern” what the Creator of your life made it uniquely for? Why were you made differently? Why did God lovingly create you, unique from all others, now in this time, with your parents, in this country, with your natural talents? Why? As Christians we believe God intends for us to reach heaven with Him --- He said so! He died, willingly --- the unique purpose He discerned for His life --- so that we could join Him in heaven. Shouldn’t we put forth some effort, therefore, to discern how He uniquely planned for us to get there?
It is no laughing matter.
We have free will. There are many roads our life may take. There is only one we were uniquely designed to take. Oh, that is not to say that there might not be others, less perfect roads that a loving God might help us along. But he specifically said that ALL roads to not lead to heaven. In fact, He said the road to heaven is narrow, not wide.
So why should you, should anyone, think that they will get to heaven, --- of course? The course in “of course” is the world around us, what everyone else is doing --- but they will not all get to heaven. He said so. So why should you, a unique being, want to follow the crowd of the world? The way of the world is sin and death.
I wrote in the past how your uniqueness changes every day; it is part of what makes and keeps you unique. You are constantly changing who you are by the experiences which make up your life. Today you may have a dying parent to care for, you may have an autistic child who greatly challenges you, you may be single, or you may have a spouse who you sometimes regret having married. All these things make up who you are today, today, like no other person. But who you will be tomorrow is yet to be accomplished. Will you have a parent in heaven who is praying for you, getting you the graces you need to go on? Will your relationships change, with your child, your spouse, or with some new person who enters your life? Will you find God, or will He find you? All these future things you cannot know with certainty; there is no “of course” to your future. You decide.
My friend who laughed at the story of a strict Christian-like courtship is also one who is very successful in business. She knows that a worker who stands out, who demonstrates unique talents, is the worker gets ahead. Because a worker discerns and polishes his unique talents, because he discerns new business processes or new products or new ways to sell products, he stands out from others, uniquely. And he is noticed --- and rewarded. By much work and effort, he helps make and keep himself unique, for the rewards he wants. My friend knows this. And yet she instinctively laughed when I described a Christian trying to stand out, to find the unique path, to become the unique person that the Christian was made to be, to obtain the unique reward. The unique reward for the woman in the novel, discerning through a Christian courtship, was not a perfect husband; marriage is an earthly thing; there is no marriage in heaven. The Christian finds the unique purpose of their life to please God, perhaps through marriage, to obtain the reward of heaven.
Why should we so easily understand the person who works hard to obtain promotions and monetary rewards, but laugh at the person who works hard to obtain eternal rewards? Which is the greater? Which reward is worth more effort? If we are indeed inclined to follow EVERYONE else’s ways, why shouldn’t we choose the Christian’s ways? Why shouldn’t we spend many hours in prayer, many days in trying to understand God’s ways, and focused on getting ahead by becoming who He created us to be?
What does God want me to do? That was the title question of this meditation. Do you see now, my friend, that what He wants you to do is to be who He created you, uniquely, to be? He wants you to discern what is His will for you. “What does God want me to do?” is a question you should ask on your knees, over and over again.
And read and study, taking the time to discern who this Jesus was, and the path He directs you toward, you, in your own unique way.
And whatever path you might choose, I will not laugh.