Paying Attention to God


QUESTION:

How do I know what God's will is for me?


You may have heard the expression, “Man proposes and God disposes.” I don’t know if you have ever thought about it much, but certainly it seems to be true in our lives. We create expectations of what’s going to happen, what we are going to do, what our children are going to do, what the country is going to do, or what it’s not going to do. But the most important thing we are called to do, is to follow God’s will. So, the question is, “How do we know what God’s will is for us?” And if we don’t see what God wants us to do, then what does that mean? Does it mean He doesn’t want us to do anything? Does it mean that we’re not paying attention?


I have found in my experience that God doesn’t count on us to figure out what His will is. Why would the Creator of the Universe expect us to read tea leaves to figure out what He wants? It doesn’t make sense. Rather, God puts right in front of us what He wants us to do. The only reason we don’t recognize it is because we are not paying attention. That’s the issue. Are we paying attention? Do we create the time and space in our lives to see what God puts in front of us?


The thought that God relies on our intelligence to figure out what He wants is ludicrous. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that He needs to show us the way. And, as Jesus promised, He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us.


If we are paying attention, then God will make His will known to us. We continuously make decisions based on worldly criteria. We decide we’re going to do something. We decide we’re going to go someplace. Or we’re not going to do something. Or we’re not going to go someplace. But if it’s God’s will, amazingly, God somehow uses those circumstances and those decisions and sort of alters our course by putting something in front of us that allows us to go in a different direction.


I think of the time I went to Newark in 2004. I had no desire to go there, but somebody asked me to go, so I went with the best intentions. It was then that God revealed to me the future of my work in Newark. I could have ignored it. I could have said, “That’s impossible, I’m not doing that. That’s too dangerous. No one is going to want to help me.” But with blind faith, I guess is a way to say it, I went ahead. Now, I look back to 2004 and realize that we’ve served over a million meals. We’ve helped thousands and thousands of people just because of something God put in front of me. And thanks be to God, I was paying attention and I wasn’t too timid to move forward.


It’s the same for all of us. Every one of us is confronted with these types of things in our lives. It’s so important to keep ourselves open to allow God to touch us and speak to us. It’s really based on our willingness to clear our minds and to clear our lives so that we are not overwhelmed with details, overwhelmed with pressures. Because, for the most part, the pressures we have in our lives are very often self-imposed.


Let’s ask God for the grace to be open to His will, to be looking for His will. Not like one would read tea leaves, but rather to see what changes, what alterations, what kinds of opportunities pop up and to go forward with both faith and trust.


May God bless you.

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