“You are worried? You see some threatening event or experience looming in your future and are torn with anxiety as to the possible consequences. Or you find yourself in a situation in which you feel hopelessly trapped, with no way out?
ARE YOU FEELING TRAPPED?
Those of us who have to answer, ‘Yes’ to such questions, convict ourselves of having failed to make life’s most important decision – the choice of God over all that is not God.
If God were capable of impatience, He surely would be in a state of perpetual annoyance at us worriers. He has presented us with a formula for confident living that is plain, simple and infallible. God rightly could expect us to adopt His formula eagerly. But we do not.
A FORMULA FOR CONFIDENT LIVING
To commit ourselves completely and irrevocably to God is what we are made for. A life built upon any other basis is an unnatural life, foredoomed to uncertainty and worry.
Once we have said unreservedly, ‘I am all Yours, God. Take me, work Your will in me, do what You want with me,’ all the bits and pieces of life, even the disasters, fall into place and begin to make sense. If I am confident that I am in God’s hands, that He is acting freely in me without hindrance on my part, how can I be uneasy? What God wants for me has to be best for me. If that is not so, then there is no God.
WHAT IF I MAKE THE WRONG DECISIONS, THOUGH?
‘But,’ we may object, ‘I already have given myself to God. I already have consented in advance to whatever God may want to do in me and with me. The trouble is that I still have to make my own decisions – and so often my decisions seem to be the wrong ones.’
ARE WE NOT DECEIVING OURSELVES?
First of all, let us be very sure that we are not deceiving ourselves. We may think that we have made a complete commitment of ourselves to God when actually we are offering Him a divided heart. We do not specifically relegate God to second place as we would do by sin. But we make God share first place with some lesser goal, such as money or success or status or pleasure or some other form of self-advancement.
The most common way of performing this spiritual balancing act between God and non-God, is to convince ourselves that what we want is also what God wants. We do not deliberately reject God’s will. Instead we evade making a thoroughly honest examination of our motives and a realistic application of God’s standard to our contemplated conduct. We ‘hurry by’ God, so to speak, pretending not to see His questioning frown.
LET’S ASSUME WE ARE NOT FOOLING OURSELVES…
However, assuming that we are not fooling ourselves when we say, ‘I want what God wants,’ let us examine this problem of having to make our own decisions.
First of all we must remember that growth in grace is an organic growth by progressive stages. Even with the best of intentions, our responsiveness to God’s will may be initially a sluggish response. With practice, with perseverance, with unrevoked willingness, we gain greater facility in detecting and doing God’s will.
WE ARE LEFT WITH A VERY NARROW MARGIN OF SELF-DETERMINATION
Another consideration is the fact that, once we have thrown ourselves wide open to God, ‘my own decision’ is likely to be much less my own decision than I think. God will honour my free will, but His wisdom will be at work in me. If I could view my own thought processes as I waver between alternatives, I might be startled to see what a narrow margin of self-determination God leaves to me.
TO A PERSON WHO REALLY SEEKS TO MAKE GOD’S WILL SUPREME IN HIS LIFE, THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS A ‘WRONG’ DECISION.
To a person who really seeks to make God’s will supreme in his life, there can be no such thing as a ‘wrong’ decision. When we have done our honest and unselfish best to fix upon the preferable course of action, then our choice is the right choice, no matter how unfortunate the immediate consequences may seem to be. Over the long haul, what now seems to have been an error will flower into a blessing.
‘I know all this,’ you may say, ‘and I do try to do God’s will, but I still worry. And I am ashamed that I do not have more trust in God.’
There is no need to feel ashamed… God sees your singleness of purpose beneath your distress. His love still enfolds you.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966