Maybe you feel called to be married and have children, but you haven’t met the “one”. Maybe you feel called to start your own company or to move across the world. Maybe you feel called to the priesthood or religious life but haven’t found the right diocese or community.
Or maybe you feel like you’re standing with your nose against an unscalable, unmovable wall and you find that you can’t go backward, forward, over, or around the wall. You’re waiting for God to open the way for you but there doesn’t seem to be any indication that He is even there.
Is God just sitting back and enjoying watching you blindly stumble along as you try to figure out His will for your life?
Scripture tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), so everything God does in our lives comes out of His unfathomable, personal love for us. He is also all-powerful (cf. Matthew 19:26). God’s power goes beyond anything we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
So why would a God who loves us more than anyone else loves us, who knows and wants what is best for us, and has the power to make it happen, not clear the way for us to live out His will?
One thing we need to remember is that God’s perspective is very different from our human perspective. Isaiah reminds us of this reality: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55: 8-9).
He shows us over and over in the bible that He always has the long-term view, and everything He does (or doesn’t do) is for our ultimate—as in eternal—happiness. Sometimes God’s plan is in a very different direction from what you thought or ever considered.
A wise person once said, “When we find ourselves at odds with God, we are the ones who need to change—not God.” God always answers our prayers, though we sometimes forget that His answer might be, “no” or “not yet”. The timing may not be right or the plan for us is different than what we are striving to attain.
He also may be waiting for us to take the first step.
For example, whatever you feel called to, are you doing everything you can to be ready for that encounter? Are you praying for your future spouse or bishop and diocese or community? Are you working on your own holiness and personal wholeness? Are you working on your prayer life and living a consistent sacramental life? Are you drawing closer to God so that you might hear and trust Him more?
Note that this does not mean that you need to be perfect before stepping out to follow God’s will. Otherwise, no one would ever get married, become a priest or enter consecrated life. It is a matter of actively participating.
And sometimes that requires a little more boldness and active discernment.
Are you active in groups where you might run into someone who is available for marriage, or are you waiting for your future spouse to walk up to your house and ring the doorbell? Are you seeking prayer and wisdom for those in your life? Are you contacting vocations directors or visiting or spending time with religious communities or are you waiting for a lightning bolt with a note from God attached to tell you what to do? We have an active part in this quest for finding God’s will. And don’t be afraid to commit to a process of discernment.
Whatever God’s will for our lives is, we can rest assured that He has our best interests at heart. Jeremiah reminds us, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (29:11).
This is an important time to use our own free wills to place all of our trust in God, but we must also remember that He is able to (and often does) bring about His will through the people and circumstances in our lives. He uses the best and the worst things that happen in our lives, and everything in between.
God is the One who calls us: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God initiates each vocation, and He will bring it to completion in us, but He does require our cooperation.
Finally, we must take a long, hard, honest look at our hearts. Are we really seeking God’s will for our lives, or are we trying to make God’s will fit into our own plans? Only you and God know the answer to that question. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “…yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), and Jesus taught us to pray in the Our Father, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10). If we can honestly pray, from our heart of hearts, “Thy will be done,” then all we need to do is step out in the direction to which we are drawn. Whether we feel Him or not, God will guide us, for, “The Lord is faithful” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
So, examine your heart, make the necessary changes, keep working at cooperating with God’s grace and do what you feel drawn to do… go for it! If it doesn’t work, God still brings us through the process to better know His grace. If you make a mistake, God will help you get back on track and even use your “mistake” to help you grow in the process. He really is there, lovingly guiding you. Are you willing to jump all in and hear His plan?