In my coaching practice, every client asks what God’s will is for them. That’s good! It means people sincerely want to please him. Remember that even though God KNOWS what will happen in your life, that does not mean he PLANNED it. You and those around you have a wonderful, powerful, and terrible gift called free will. God doesn’t plan evil, but he does permit it, with the promise that if we cooperate with him, he’ll bring greater good from it.
Wanting to know God’s will also may mean one is hoping to hear an answer other than that which God has already given him. At this point in life, we should KNOW God’s basic will for us. Let me explain:
1 – God made us to desire union with him and to please him; our sin nature (the “sin of the world”) seeks fulfillment of that desire in the wrong ways /places/persons.
2 – He knew we would be confused (by the world, the flesh, and the devil) so he gave us specific instructions.
3 – He knew we would misinterpret the instructions, so he gave us his Church to guide us.
4 – He knew we would not even listen to the wisdom of the Church, so he allows the pain to lead us (when we are ready) to others who can guide us.
That’s me. I’m one of those who will guide you right back around to his original instructions:
God’s “master” plan for you is pretty simple:
KNOW HIM. Read, study, observe, and listen more. Desire to know him intimately and honestly. Pray for the grace to avoid the counterfeit “Jesus” and accept the One who may seem scarier, tougher, or less tolerant. Don’t rely on feelings.
LOVE HIM. Once you know him as much as you can this side of heaven, you will not be able to resist loving him. When you begin to know how much he loves you, you will ache to love him in return and please him in every way. Still doubt his great goodness? Go back to KNOW and spend some there. Return to the four gospels as a start.
SERVE HIM. This is last for a reason. Some people, out of guilt, shame, fear, or culture, will “serve” God without knowing or loving him. That’s okay for now; sometimes in these acts, the Lord will reach them. Sincere obedience even without understanding is a virtue. But service that is not slavery is the natural outpouring of love returned. Couples in love? They willingly rush into such “slavery”. It is a sweet servitude that, even when suffering comes, is also a joy.
In a certain sense, being rich or poor, single or married, in ministry or not, matters far less than we believe it does. If by the world’s standards you never accomplished anything “special” but did these three well, you would be a saint. And, as my pal Patrick Coffin famously asks, “What else is there?”
God gave us a set of sub-plans
For those who sometimes need more nuanced instruction, we have: The Ten Commandments, The Proverbs, The Beatitudes, and more. Read Scripture and the Catechism (which draws deeply on God’s word) and you will not get lost. Most people struggle with the “serve him” part and insist on more specific direction. Fear, doubt, insecurity, or even laziness can keep us wondering about God’s will. Many times we are saying, “I really want this, but, God, are YOU okay with it?”
Like my Dad used to do on the back of a napkin at the lunch counter, God is not going to draw it all out again; he already did. We are often just looking for some way around it. “Use the brains God gave you, Rosie,” Dad used to say. God wants you to mature and partner with him, and ultimately share in his cross. To that end, he gives you even more guidance and graces in three, specific gifts:
Instinct to keep you safe
Intuition to hear his voice
Intellect to know the way even when feelings are fickle
God will show you that sign
God delights when you exercise your free will rightly and choose what delights you! That’s the kind of Father he is. Yes, miracles still happen, but most often God will give you his “sign” that you are on the right path when you can answer YES to these questions:
Do I honestly desire it? (Or is it something someone else wants me to do or have?)
Is it moral? ( It can be good or neutral, just not immoral. Check Church teachings.)
Is it licit? (It may not be immoral, but the law prohibits it for other good reason. Render to Caeser.)
Is it hurting me in some way? (Letting others use and abuse you is not good for you or them.)
Is it realistic? (I’d love to be a ballerina but I am a short, stocky klutz.)
Is it within my natural talents, gifts, and strengths? (Or will it drain me and irritate others?)
Is it in my budget? (Financial irresponsibility is sinful.)
Is my spouse in general agreement? (Trust God to guide you through a wise spouse/close friend.)
Will it lead me toward God . . . or away from him? (Have I become too attached to the idea?)
Will it honor and safeguard my closest relationships? (Abandoning your family to be a missionary is foolish.)
If you replied with “Yes” on all, go for it! You will be in God’s will.
With practice, this line of thinking becomes easier and, eventually, second nature. Post these on the fridge and discuss them with the kiddos! Extra points if you pay them $100 to memorize them!
“Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.”