The Eye of God or the Helix Nebula, a composite picture from the Hubbel space telescope and Kitt Peak Observatory
Cecilia commented on my last post that “I can tell I'm in a spiritual mess when I don't want to pray-- don't want to conform my will to God's.” And, I couldn’t agree more with the first part of that statement. I probably agree with the last part because we tend to think somewhat alike, but the will of God has been misconstrued so many times in so many ways that I need to write what I think about the will of God.
Living in the South, when someone says “the will of God’, they usually mean “God’s plan”, and, frequently, they believe that God has a plan for every moment of their lives. It is God’s will that they took a wrong turn and ended up in a bad section of town with a flat tire. They, obviously, needed to learn something from that – perhaps to pay attention to where you’re going or to take better care of God’s blessings.
I don’t believe that God has a plan for my life beyond being Margaret, the best Margaret that can be. I believe that God can guide me in my journey and can help me turn evil into good, but I don’t think that God plans each step of the way. God could, but it seems a useless waste of free will not to mention intelligence if God is going to map out the journey, guide me along the path, and all I have to do is follow meekly along. Not that I’m very good about following paths; my partner and I joke that one of the things we do best is to go in circles. And, I’m not meek nor do I want to inherit the earth.
God’s will/plan for my life is four-fold. 1) to love God, 2) to love my neighbors, 3) to enjoy life, and 4) to leave this world a better place for my having been here. That’s a big chunk of will for me. I do think that God leaves it up to me as to how I get those things done. And, I do make mistakes; I do go in circles and I do say NO when I should say yes.
If I’m in relationship with God through prayer, meditation, cursing the world and repenting of my evil thoughts, then I am able to do those things fairly well. I keep improving as I go along, but I’m never going to be perfect at any of it, and God’s not going to count the times I fail. God’s interested in the fact that I’m making the journey and that I have a concept of the divine desire for life. I believe in an abundance of life, gifts from God and God’s right hands here on earth for me to use along the way. I’ll take all the help I can get, thank you. Once again, I’m reminded of Blanche in “Streetcar Named Desire’, who said, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
The Hebrew Scriptures are full of stories about ancient concepts of God and stories that tell us how to live and how not to live our lives. The New Testament is more specific with statements from Jesus/God about how to make this business of life go better. That’s a good place to find God’s will. But, it’s not specific to my situation in the here and now. I have to interpret and to pick and choose those passages that seem to apply best at the time. And, if, that’s a big IF, I’m in a good relationship with God, then I seem to choose the passages well. But, woe betides me if I go into the Bible looking for specific answers and guidance. I get so confused and I put the Bible down to look for another guide…usually my own desires. Then, I go in circles or, worse yet, backwards.
If the passages that keep coming forward in my prayer are against my desires (for I nearly always have an opinion), then I’m like the fellow hanging on the cliff crying to God for help. God says, “Let go.” The cry and the answer are repeated several times (I don’t get the idea very quickly either), when finally, the man says, “Is there anybody else up there?” I don’t easily believe that the best Margaret will be found in a direction contrary to my hopes and desires. Sometimes I listen; sometimes I don’t. I’m still learning.
God’s will and God’s plan for me can look to the future and project it through the end. But, every choice that I make changes that plan; bad choices and bad relationships can abort the whole process for a time. Sometimes, when I’m in sync with God, I do well with parts of the four-fold plan above. Never perfect, never completely imperfect, but a journey in relationship with a divine being who is beyond my comprehension yet loves me enough to keep on trucking along with me.