Written by Josh Patterson, Young Adult and High School Pastor
Before you jump into this blog post, I want to invite you to participate in a centering prayer. The prayer I want to share with you was written by Peter Traben Haas and can be found in his book ‘Centering Prayers: A One Year Daily Companion for Going Deeper into the Love of God’.
To start, close your eyes and place your hand on your heart. It is here, in your heart that Christ dwells. Remind yourself of His presence with you right here and right now. Take a few deep and slow breathes and reflect on His presence.
Next, open you eyes and read the following prayer out loud twice, ending the prayer with a humble ‘Amen’.
“Transforming Trinity: Help me accept your invitation to live in you so deeply that I can’t tell where I end and you begin. Amen.”
Now that we are calm and centered, let us reflect together on an important question:
What is God’s will for my life?
This is a question that all of us have asked at some point in our life, and in fact, perhaps some of us ask this question every day. I recall a time I once worked at a church in South Florida. Every year they would do a ‘spiritual growth campaign’ involving the entire church. This particular year, we were going to spend 8 weeks learning how to discern and ‘do’ the will of God.
If I can be honest, the series woefully underdelivered and was not very helpful at all. We spent 8 weeks talking in circles and getting nowhere.
I recently stumbled upon a story however, that answered this question in a few humble words. It hit me like a pound of bricks. Brother Leon was a long-retired bookkeeper for the Franciscan outreach to the poor and needy in Chicago. He would spend his days praying, watching tv, cleaning the friary kitchen, cleaning up the recreation room, and taking care of any other domestic needs that would arise in his friar community. At the end of the day, whenever asked how he had spent his day, Leon would always respond: “Doing the will of God.” Over the years, Leon discovered that this moment’s unmet need or required duty was the ambassador of the will of God.
There are two big things that we need to understand in order to grasp the wisdom here from Brother Leon. The first thing is understanding what has been called the “Sacrament of now”. This idea is most often attributed to the late Jesuit, Jean-Pierre de Caussade.
Far too often, we experience a divisive bilocation. We are either weighed down with guilt for something that we have done in the past or we are worried about what is to come in the future.
Our body is in the present, but our mind is anywhere but here. We have forgotten what a gift it is to be fully in this moment. The truth is, this moment is all we have and this moment is the only thing that is truly eternal.
It is only here in the present that we can experience the Divine. The present moment is a sacrament because it is the very portal through which God enters into our lives.
To live in the present moment is to be open to visitation from the Divine. To live in the present is to awaken to the reality that the Divine has been here the whole time.
See we often think in large, grandiose ideas when it comes to ‘God’s will for my life’. But that’s not how it works, which leads me to the second thing we need to understand. Doing the will of God means being present right here, right now, and being faithful in the mundane. Doing the will of God doesn’t involve us solving some big Divine mystery. Doing the will of God is being present to the moment, recognizing the unmet need, and then being faithful to that thing, recognizing it for what it truly is, an ambassador of the Divine will.
This does not mean however that we forsake either the past or the future. We don’t need to choose between past, present, or future. Instead, be present to where you are, and allow the Divine ambassador to show you where your focus should be and where the Divine will is.
Is this moment asking you to look back over the year to do your taxes or to examine your consciousness? Then do that. Is it asking you to plan for what college you want to go to or to meet with a financial advisor to plan your retirement? Then do that!
What are the unmet needs and required duties that you have in your everyday life?
How mindful are you of the fact that these mundane tasks are intact portals to the sacred?
Doing the will of God begins with living in the sacrament of the present moment. Allow this sacrament, this ambassador of the Divine will to guide you in its unmet needs and required duties.