I am learning it again, one of those lessons that I think I know (as in, “I got it Lord, now you can stop”) but then I’m reminded that I am due for a serious ‘refresher’ course. And the lesson is this: God’s specific will and plan for my life will not be given beforehand. And in trying to discern it, I fall into the trap of perfection: that I must be whole, perfect, arrived, etc., before God will ever use me or reveal to me his plan. Nope. Sorry.
I am learning, once again through God’s disturbing grace, only those who have fallen down, can ever truly know what “up” is; only those who have failed miserably can ever truly know what “success” looks like; and only those who are cracked and wounded can ever really know what healing truly is.
And part of this truth involves something I have struggled with for over 25 years – namely, God’s will for my life. I am learning something that I want to share with you: forget about ‘knowing’ God’s will for your life. Very few people in this world, in the Sacred Scriptures, or those who have come before us, have ever received the full blue print plan for their lives…much less even the 5 year plan! So give it up.
Now, there are some things about God’s will I am certain of: that I stay clean and sober; that I pray and seek God; that I practice love and compassion; that I do no harm to any living creature. Those I know. What I am speaking of ‘letting go’ of is the actual plan, the down-to-the-specifics.
Example: God called a man and woman named Abram and Sarai, to pack up everything (their entire lives) and to set out to a strange land! God did not say to them, “so, here’s your itinerary, here is where you will stop, here is what you will do, here is the specific plan.” Nope. And do you really think if Abram knew he was going to have his named changed through trial, error and circumstance, do you really think he would have done it? OK, Abram, I’m going to finally give you a son in your old age, then I’m going to ask you to murder him. Right God. I’ll jump right on doing that (God’s will).”
Knowing can in certain ways be deadly, because too much knowledge makes us too self-reliant (and we are called to be God-reliant) or we will be filled with dread and run from God’s loving will.
So instead Abram and Sarai listen to God in that moment; they listen to their God say, “pack your bags, start walking and trust Me! Stay close to Me so that when the next thing occurs you will be intimate enough with Me that trusting Me and listening to what I say and following that word will be easier.”
In 2014, most of us would call that absolutely crazy and downright asinine. But I call it sane. And so does God. Because most of my life I’ve had two occurrences: one is the ‘notion’ that I am called to be a shepherd and two, that my life is to be amongst those at the edges of life – the poor, downtrodden, the addicted, the wounded and the invisible. No blue print (although I do have a Dream planted by God in my heart called Nazareth Farm). No road map saying: go here, go there. Oh yes, I am taking issue with people who say the Bible is a road map…it has some road map-like qualities to it, but it is so much more: it is a love story between God and God’s people; it is not some picture perfect blueprint. And if it is, then let’s not forget about all the adulterers, sinners, thieves, whores, orphans, weaklings, connivers and murderers that God used to change the course of human history and those same ones God called friend, apple my his eye, and his beloved.
I have more often than not fumbled my way into grace and stumbled upon God’s will through the messiness of it all more than I have through having some angelic heavenly revelation. It’s true. I have discovered more of God’s will for my life when I’m on the ground after falling headfirst and tending to my bloody knees than I have in some safe place, surrounded by the frozen chosen.
It is precisely in the times of so-called failure, darkness, despair, and even misery that I have been in a place to actually hear God’s voice saying to me “I love you, now come over this way.” Or “Keep doing what you are doing…I know it hurts, but all growth involves some element of pain.”
So I fumble forward into the grace of God and I fall ‘upward’ into his will and desires for me. It ain’t always pretty and I am so far from any sense of perfection. But I am seeking: God’s face, God’s heart, his grace and mercy. I am asking God for the sense of place and purpose and the strength and openness to receive and give his tender mercies to others. I am a messy, bumbling fumbling channel for the love of God found in Jesus…but still no “Plan.”
We don’t get “the Plan” in advance, beloved.
In order to “get” it at all, one thing we must do is stay close to God, (so we learn to love and trust God more, so we can actually hear that divine voice). Although not necessarily a blueprint, we do however get promises and some loving commands: God is always with us whether or not we see or feel it; we are to love our neighbors and our enemies; we are to be servants; we are called to closeness with God for with intimacy comes deeper trust and love (and this through prayer and meditation).
It is vital to remember that God never said don’t make mistakes, in truth, trusting God and taking risk for God are steps of faith and with faith mountains can me moved and God Dreams can come to fruition. And forget being perfect in following the way of Jesus. Oh yes, I know the Scripture that says “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” but the word used for ‘perfect’ is often mistranslated because the word Jesus uses means “mature” rather than to be without error. So that particular Scripture could be written “be mature as your heavenly Father is mature,” which means don’t be childish, selfish, petty, rude, etc.
So when it comes to knowing God’s specific will and plan for your life: Fugetaboutit!
As the Spanish proverb so says: “the Way is made along the Way.” So, pack your bags, say a prayer, and start walking…and never forget this truth: as long as you are following God, although you may not know exactly where you are going, you will never be lost.