|Excerpts from TWO WILLS—HIS AND MINE|
|Mother M. Angelica
The difficulty most of us experience is not so much in doing God's Will as in simply knowing what that Will is for us. In this regard there are some things we can be positive are God's Will, for example:
In the Scriptures we see, in many simple ways, exactly what the Father expects of us. These are all direct manifestations of the Will of God in our daily lives. Perhaps a list of some of these positive commandments may be of help.
1. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly." (Luke 6:27,35)
2. "Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned." (Luke 6:36,38)
3. "I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Luke 18:17)
4. "It is my Father's Will that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life." (Jn. 6:40)
5. "Shoulder my yoke and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart." (Matt. 11:29)
Our problem may be that we look upon the Commandments in a rather negative way. They are for the most part "don't" directives in our minds, but this is not so. We do not find fault with the inventor of a machine when he gives us directions on how to obtain the best results from what he has invented. Who else would know how best a particular machine runs than its inventor! To most of us this is logical and we are willing to follow directions and accept the fact that most equipment is only guaranteed, provided directions are properly followed.
This is exactly what God has done in giving us Commandments. They are not the demands of a Creator, who makes His creatures ever aware of their subordinate position. The Commandments, given by the Father in the Old and by Jesus in the New Testament, are only directions that say—human beings He has created are happier, healthier and more content when they follow the directions of their Creator.
The Father knows under what conditions our souls grow and mature. He knows what reminders are best for our weaknesses. He knows what steps must be taken to avoid the many obstacles the Enemy strews in our path. Most of all, He knows in what way our souls need to be purified, tempered and transformed so they can one day stand in His awesome Presence and not be annihilated.
The Scriptures are full of revelations telling how the Father wishes us to think and act under every circumstance. Our problem in knowing God's Will then is in the decisions we make in our daily lives. First, it must be said that the Commandments mentioned above are part of God's Ordaining Will. There is no question here of what He wants. The trials of daily life, the evil, suffering, etc. are part of God's Permitting Will.
God's Ordaining Will wants only what is good and holy, but man's free will and the temptations of the Enemy produce other effects that are not good. These effects we suffer from, but God, to whom all things are present, sees some good in our endurance of pain and evil and for the sake of a greater good, He permits evil.
St. Paul brought this out when he reminded us that to those who love God all things tend to good. (Rom. 8:28) Our dear Lord endured the malice, hatred and finally crucifixion to accomplish God's Will.
We cannot say God ordained that men reject and kill His Son, but knowing beforehand the sentiments of the chosen people at His Son's appearance on earth, He permitted their evil dispositions and by His Son's perfect acceptance of these evils, He wrought our Redemption. He ordained that man not fall, but pride rejected that desire. He ordained that man accept His Son, but many did not. In permitting the effects of non-acceptance, the Father saw great good. Man would forever know how much he was loved by God; he would be the recipient of the Spirit, grace, Divine Sonship and finally Heaven. All this good was wrapped securely behind the malice of men. God saw it and permitted His Son to suffer grievously in order to break the hold of the Enemy upon mankind and finally destroy death completely by a glorious Resurrection.
The Father has that same love for us and our Faith, Hope and Love must ever burn brightly as we endure the trials He permits in our lives. Trust is the key to accomplishing God's Will. We must trust the Father, whose Eyes are ever ahead of us. We cannot see or judge our way in a dense fog, but we can have trust in the Father, who sees all things ahead clearly.
In making decisions as to a state of life, friends, work, future plans, business ventures, etc. we must first arrive at some guidelines, use the mental faculties God has already given us and pray for guidance. We cannot expect Him to come down in some ecstatic vision and tell us exactly what to do.
Perhaps some guidelines would be—to see if the decision we need to make is for the greater honor and glory of God, how does it affect our relationship with Him and are we at peace with it. We can rest assured that if we make our decision in this light God will stand by us and bring good out of it even if we see later our decision was not the most perfect.
Failure is also used by God to bring us closer to Him. He never commanded us always to make the right decisions—only to be holy—and that entails a childlike confidence that He will make our crooked ways straight and our faltering steps firm.
When we have an occasion to choose friends, we already have criteria to go by. Jesus told us to judge by fruits. (Matt. 7:16) Our friends must be chosen, not only by the fruit they bear in their own lives, but by the fruit we bear in their company. We can arrive at some concept of God's Will in relation to work, by the talents God has given us. What kind of work are we best suited for and happy doing? If we are not sure, then we need to experiment with various types of work until we arrive at that "at home" awareness that this is what we can do best.
It happens, however, that sometimes we live in a particular situation that is brought about by our own weakness, mistakes, wrong decisions and the evil intentions of our neighbor. Where is God's Will in this? If we have prayed and no solution is at hand; if we have tried to change the matter at hand and things only got worse, then we can be sure that patient endurance is God's Will, at least for the moment. Continuous prayer will bring fortitude and fortitude will bring perseverance, perseverance will bring Hope and that Hope will not be in vain.
St. Paul told the Corinthians, "We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair." (2 Cor. 4:8) Even a holy, specially chosen soul such as Paul had moments when God's Will was not clear—when everything seemed impossible. This is why one day Paul besought the Lord to relieve him of his multitudinous problems. He began to think God's Will was not in his trials, weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and the agonies of the Apostolate. (2 Cor. 12:10) So it was that three times he asked for relief and the reply he received reassured him that if it was happening, God's Will would bring good out of it. "My grace," Jesus answered Paul, "is enough for you, my power is at its best in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) Paul rejoiced at this reply. It did not lessen his sorrows but the knowledge that God's grace was with him made him say, "I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me."(2 Cor. 12:10)
This is the difference between a pagan and a Christian. To a pagan there is no purpose to suffering. As a result he lives a life of loneliness and frustration. The Christian may be experiencing the same trials as a pagan and never lose his joy. He sees God's will in it, sees an opportunity to be like Jesus, sees greater glory in the Kingdom. The pagan's trials are increased by despair and the Christian's lightened, by sharing the yoke of Jesus.
Many ask the question, "How do I know this is God's Will for me?" The answer is simply, "If it is happening, it is God's will. It is not relevant whether it is His ordaining or permitting Will, nothing happens to us that He has not seen beforehand, pondered the good we would derive from it and put upon it His stamp of approval.
God's Will is manifested to us in the duties and experiences of the present moment. We have only to accept them and try to be like Jesus in them. When Jesus made no answer to Pilate, Pilate said to Him, "Are You refusing to speak to me? Surely, you know I have power to crucify you." (Jn. 19:10)
The reply Jesus made shows us very clearly that Jesus saw the Father's Will in every moment to moment experience, just or unjust. "You would have no power over Me, if it had not been given you from above." (Jn. 15:11) Jesus saw the Father in a weak, unjust judge. How many of us have that kind of confidence—that kind of insight!
St. Peter encourages the Christian of his day to "accept the authority of every social institution, the emperor as the supreme authority and the governors... God wants us to be good citizens....have respect for everyone...and honor the emperor."
(1 Peter 2:13-16) We are all aware of the fact that Peter was speaking here of Nero, whose wickedness was a well known fact. However, it goes without saying that if lawful authority demands a rejection of God or God's Commandments, we must choose God before all else. God did not redeem us in order to place us in some kind of earthly Utopia. He redeemed us to give us a kingdom, to make us adopted sons, to give us everlasting joy, to witness to the world of the existence of another life and to prove by our personal conversion that Jesus is the Son of God.
St. Paul assures us that all the suffering in the world is not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come." (Rom. 8:18)
Every moment of life is like a sacrament in which we can receive God. It is a channel through which God speaks to us, forms us and directs us. We have only to accept the duties of the present moment to find God's Will. We are hampered in breathing this supernatural air by the fact we see only people and circumstances brought about by the malice or temperaments of others. They become obstacles in our path and prevent us from seeing God.
We cannot see God in their actions because these actions are opposed to His Ordaining Will. However, we can see God through these actions, like seeing a beloved friend through a dense fog. In that fog we may still stumble and fall, cry and despair at times, but that Figure ever beckons us forward to a greater light beyond.
The secret then in finding God's Will is to see Him in the present moment and react to that Presence in as loving a way as we can. It takes a little effort to see God in everything, but Jesus did just that and His complete obedience won our salvation.
There are times when we need to make "on the spot" decisions—occasions when there is hardly time for a prayer. In these circumstances we can be sure that if our heart has been with God up to that moment, we will make the correct move. If we fail, our hope in His Love assures us He will bring good out of it.
God does not want us to fret and worry about yesterday or tomorrow. We read in St. Matthew's Gospel that Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt. 6:33,34) Here is a call from Jesus to live in the present moment. Jesus is not telling us that as Christians we will be trouble free. He is telling us to bear our yoke with Him and do it on a moment to moment basis. If we exercise ourselves in this kind of living, we will have the presence of mind to see His Will and the strength to do it.
There is no blue print—no certain way of knowing the Will of God in our material decisions. Our God-given intellect and the discernment of His Spirit living in our hearts, will give us the necessary tools to make better than average correct decisions. But sometimes His permitting Will allows our failure, to exercise our Faith, increase our Hope and cause us to cling to Him as our Friend in need.
There will be times when His Will is so cloudy in our minds, the path to take so uncertain that we are forced to choose the least doubtful path and hope for the best. Our peace in these circumstances comes from the deep realization still alive among dying embers that God is our Father and He will take care.
God is not the tyrant we find the world to be. He is satisfied with sincere effort to know and accomplish His Will. He will crown these efforts with success though all seems lost.
Lord and Father, grant that Your Holy Spirit may fill me with an awareness of Your Will in the present moment. I want to see Your Providence, Your guidance and Your grace in my daily life. Forgive me when I rebel because Your Will seems harsh at times. My light is dimmed by self-will and selfishness. My heart is not ready for sacrifice and my mind rejects what it cannot comprehend. Let Your mercy surround me and wrap me in a mantle of light. Let me see clearly the wisdom behind everything You permit and the love within everything you ordain. May our Wills join into one Will so I may do in this life what I shall do for all eternity—perfectly united to Your Will.
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