Your Will Be Done
“Doing God’s will” is a pretty constant theme in the life of any Catholic. Hopefully, we are all doing our best to trust God and put our faith in Him. But sometimes it gets a little scary, and it’s difficult to truly surrender. We all want to let God run our lives, but we’re not really sure how to even do that.
The first step to letting God run your life is to understand what it means to follow God’s will. It can be easy to say that we will do God’s will when we’re sitting comfortably in church feeling the peace and consolation of Jesus in our hearts. It’s a different matter when we’re wondering where next month’s rent is going to come from, and God is telling you to start a new business.
Doing God’s will is simple but difficult. It requires that we surrender our own ideas about what our life should look like. It requires that we become comfortable looking different from the rest of the world. It requires that we abandon the rules and principles that the world tells us to follow in our lives.
When we say, “Thy will be done,” we have to mean it. My mom used to say, “actions speak louder than words.” Nowhere is this more true or obvious than when we tell God we want to do His will and we actually do it.
I Want To Be Your Hands
I’ve got a story to illustrate a time that I know God was running my life. I was in Chattanooga, TN for my business partner’s wedding. I was in the wedding party, and we had to be at the church early to take pictures. I was also in charge of getting the sound system setup at the venue for the reception.
The morning was getting away from me. I needed to be at the church, but I also hadn’t eaten lunch yet. I was super hungry and knew that if I didn’t eat, it would be another 3 or 4 hours before I could eat at the reception. I said a prayer to my guardian angel, and he said to check my phone for places around me to eat. I pulled up Google maps on my phone and saw that there was a Subway a few blocks away from the church. I routed it on maps and headed over there. When I arrived, I saw that this Subway was closed, even though maps said it was open. I had noticed a Jimmy Johns a little further away on Google maps, so I asked my guardian angel again what I should do, and he said to go to Jimmy Johns.
I pull up outside the Jimmy Johns (this is downtown Chattanooga, so I’m parked on the side of the street) and head into the shop. As I’m walking in, I pass a homeless man in a wheelchair outside the Jimmy Johns.
Once inside, I order a sandwich and leave the shop. As I’m returning to my car, I pass the man in the wheelchair again. This time I ask myself, “Why didn’t you get a sandwich for this guy?? You saw him out here, you could have just bought him a sandwich too!”
As I’m having this internal dialogue, I’m still walking to my car, leaving the homeless man behind me. As I’m about to get into my car, I realize that I cannot keep the sandwich in my hand, this man in the wheelchair needs my sandwich. I quickly retrace my steps, hand him the sandwich and return to my car.
At this point I tell God, “You’re gonna have to help me now because I’m starving, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through mass.” It’s probably useful for me to tell you that when I don’t eat for too long, I get really light headed and feel like I’m going to pass out.
By now I’m almost late for the pictures, so I don’t have time to get another sandwich. I jump in my car and return to the church. I walk into the dressing room where everyone is getting ready for pictures and start joining the rest of the groomsmen. After a couple of minutes, I hear someone say, “sandwiches!” I turn around and there, on a shelf at the back of the room, is a box of deli sandwiches that was bought so the groomsmen could have lunch.
When I saw this, two thoughts entered my mind at the same time. The first was, “Thank you, God, for taking care of my needs.” The second was that the only reason I had gone to Jimmy Johns was because that homeless man needed a sandwich and God needed me to bring it to him.
Do I tell you this story to show how generous I am and how God has anointed me to “feed the hungry?” No. I tell you this story because there is one thing I did that day which enabled all of this to happen.
When I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, I asked God. More importantly, after I asked, I listened.
Your Will vs. God’s Will
The world is full of people who pray to God for guidance in their life and then proceed to do exactly what they want to do. They claim that they prayed about the new house they just moved into, so God must have failed them when their furnace and water heater immediately went out. Or maybe they said a novena about that new job, but a week after they started, the company went under.
There are two things you need to understand if you’re going to let God run your life.
- Praying and then doing what you want to do will usually end badly.
- Your idea of success and God’s idea of success are not the same thing.
Let’s discuss both of these ideas in more detail.
1) Praying And Then Doing What You Want
What do I mean by this? Am I suggesting that what I want and what God wants are never the same thing? No, not by a long stretch.
For example, my wife and I were living in a rented house. We loved the house, but the family who owned it was only supposed to be out of the country for a specific period of time and then they were coming back. We didn’t know whether or not we would be able to renew our lease at the house and were super bummed at the idea of leaving.
For months before the lease was up, I had been looking at houses for rent and trying to decide what we were supposed to do. My wife kept saying things like, “If we have to move, I’m going to be so sad because I love this living room.”
Finally, I asked my wife, “What is it that you want? Do you want what you want to happen or do you want what God has planned for us?”
My wife realized that she was allowing her ideas about what our life should look like to make her anxious and worried about our house situation. If God’s plan was for us to stay, it would work out. If God’s plan was not for us to stay, why would we want to stay? Why, if God’s plan is perfect, would we ever want something that wasn’t in that plan?
A soul who is really resigned to God’s will does not become attached to any created thing because he sees clearly that all things are nothing except God.Blessed Henry Susone
The reality is that our human minds are close to useless. We’re succeptible to all sorts of crazy thoughts. We experience irrational fear and anxiety. We have ideas that the world puts in our head about what is “safe” or “prudent.“ We consult people around us who are just as confused and fallible as we are, and then we make decisions based on their answers.
Here’s the question I have for you. Are you really the person you want to trust to plan your life?
Are you that confident in your own judgment and ability to rely on yourself? If someone came to you and asked, “what should I do with my life?” would you feel like you were the best person to answer?
It’s this simple. God has a plan. When we pray and say, “Jesus, I trust in You,” that’s supposed to actually mean something. If I pray for guidance and then simply do what I want to do, that’s not trust, that’s not prayer. If I say “Lord, I want to do Your will” and then turn around and do whatever my friends or my parents think I should do, that’s not trust.
Lord what wilt Thou have me do? Behold the true sign of a totally perfect soul: when one has reached the point of giving up his will so completely that he no longer seeks, expects, or desires to do ought but that which God wills. – St. Bernard
In order for God to run your life, you must be willing to let God run your life. When we say “God, show me what to do,” we have to actually do the thing He puts in front of us. We can’t surrender our lives to God, only as long as His plans make sense to us.
The reason so many people struggle with this is because it can be terrifying at first. The good news is that the more you do it, the sooner you end up in a place where you have no choice but to simply trust God. The more God runs your life, the more you simply cannot run your life. It’s a good thing, but the first step is very difficult.
2) Your Idea Of Success Is Not God’s Idea Of Success
Now, let’s discuss the second idea. Your concept of success and God’s concept are not the same.
What do I mean by success? I mean anything that you use to quantify how you are doing in your life. Money, status, accomplishments, skills, relationships… anything that you use to determine how well your life is going.
I’m not saying that those things are not a measure of success, they can be. I’m saying that if you want to let God run your life, you need to stop thinking in terms of what the world considers success to be.
I find myself often reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter. “You are thinking not as God does, but as man does.” I reflect upon this often in my own life when I am tempted to assert my own will instead of following God’s will.
Most often, when I want to assert my own will, it is because of purely human considerations. I’m worried about money, I’m worried about what someone else may think of me, I’m worried about someone not liking me or someone getting mad at me. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll be seen as a weirdo, or I’m embarrassed to take a stand or be honest about a difficult situation in my life.
No matter what it is, I can always trace it back to Jesus’ words to Peter. I am thinking not as God does but as man does. A great example of this in my own life is when I came to the conclusion that God was asking me to share my struggles with porn addiction.
The last thing I wanted was to start telling people that I was a porn addict. I ignored God’s voice for months, but eventually I couldn’t resist any longer. The only way for me to find peace was to do what God was asking me to do. The results from me trusting God and doing what He asked have been immense. I’ve heard from many other Catholics struggling with the same thing, I’ve made progress in my own battle with porn addiction, and I’ve grown closer to God in the process.
Very few people would include telling the world about their porn addiction in their idea of success.
That’s the point. God’s plan has nothing to do with what we think about the world or ourselves. If I truly am God’s instrument, then I’m here to do what He needs to be done. If God needs my witness, then He has my witness. If God needs me to humble myself and open my wounds to the world, then that is what I will do.
If you truly desire to let God run your life, there can be no reservations. You must be willing to submit completely to something outside of yourself. Once you start down this path, you can’t go back to where you were. This is why so few people ever attain this level in their relationship with God. It is truly terrifying to give up your own will. It is truly terrifying to let God’s will become your own.
At the same time, there is no life like a life lived in complete surrender to God.
Let God Run Your Life
It is really this simple. God is your Father. He loves you in ways you cannot understand with your tiny human mind. His plan is perfect and incomprehensible.
If we truly want to live a meaningful, holy, and joyful life we have to embrace the truth that we are nothing but lost children trying to find our way in the world.
Anyone who is a parent knows how utterly ridiculous it is when a 3-year-old toddler tries to tell you what they’re going to be doing instead of listening to you. We, as God’s creation, are far less aware of what is actually good for us than a 3 year old is, relative to their own parents.
Jesus gives us the blueprint when He says that we must “become like the little children.” This is not an exaggeration. Just as a child places absolute trust in their parents to feed them, clothe them, and guide them where they need to go, so must we place absolute trust in Our Heavenly Father. God wants to run your life, not because He is a tyrant, but because He loves you and your life will be amazing if you trust in Him.
You have a choice to make. Either you throw a tantrum like a spoiled child, or you run to your Father’s arms and let Him hold you. For me, the choice is clear.