28 April 2009

Doing God’s will

From time to time I find myself asking what God wants me to be doing with my life. It’s the kind of question that surfaces at moments of uncertainty or when I begin to suspect that the things I am doing are largely meaningless. I have just been going through one of those phases and, once again, found myself asking what work God really wants me to be doing.

This time the answer (or, at least, a response) came through the unlikely medium of a blog entry. Country Contemplative recently posted a quotation from Thomas Merton, which reminded me that

If you want to know what is meant by “God’s will”, this is one way to get a good idea of it. “God’s will” is certainly found in anything that is required of us in order that we may be united with one another in love. …Everything that is demanded of me, in order that I may treat every other person effectively as a human being, “is willed for me by God under the natural law.” …I must learn to share with others their joys, their sufferings, their ideas, their needs, their desires. I must learn to do this not only in the cases of those who are of the same class, the same profession, the same race, the same nation as myself, but when those who suffer belong to other groups, even to groups that are regarded as hostile. If I do this, I obey God. If I refuse to do it, I disobey Him. It is not therefore a matter left open to subjective caprice. (New Seeds of Contemplation, pp. 76–7)

The point for me is that asking what work, what thing(s), God wants me to do is the wrong question. God is really much more interested in our relationships than in our work. What is God’s will for our lives? Jesus answered the question definitively when he said,

The first [commandment] is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12.29–31)

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