Monday, November 9, 2009

Just Because I Ask a Question Doesn't Mean I Want to Hear the Answer

When I was a kid and my mom’s birthday was coming up, I would go to her and ask, “What do you want for your birthday, Mom?” And her answer was always the same. “Nancy, if you want to give me something, clean your room.”

Well, that was the last thing I wanted to give my mother for her birthday and at the time I thought she was just being uncooperative. So I would go out and buy her something that I thought she might like. But you know, now that I’ve been a mother with kids who kept their rooms a lot like I did when I was their age, I understand what my mom was saying. And I realize that she meant it. The best present I could have given her would have been cleaning my room.

It seems like we all struggle with discerning God's will for our lives. We long to have a clear answer to the question, "What do you want from me,God?" But I've come to the conclusion that we aren't any more interesed in hearing what God really wants from us than I was interested in hearing what mom really wanted from me.

After all, it’s not such a great mystery what God’s will is for our lives and discerning it is not like the search for the Holy Grail. We don’t have to go any further than the baptismal service itself where we present a lighted candle to the newly baptized and say: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

God’s will for our lives is spelled out for us repeatedly in the scriptures. One of my favorite passages is from Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God?” That’s pretty clear to me. Jesus himself gives us lots of instructions, including: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). He summed it all up by telling us that the most important thing we can do with our lives is love God by loving one another. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”(John 13:35). We have tons of scriptures that clearly tell us what God’s will is for his people. And yet, we act like it’s some great unsolved mystery. Why? Is it that we don't believe God really means it? Or could it be because we simply flat out don’t want to do it?

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