THINKINGI have always thought of myself as a thinker. I analyze and analyze many of the decisions that I need to make, at times researching possible answers or outcomes to the point of being somewhat obsessed with trying to control the outcome. Thinking things is good at times especially when being impulsive might be quite harmful to others. I even like to think that I am discerning using a theological term.
Yet despite this I find that most of the time my thoughts are not God's thoughts (IS 55:8). I take myself to Thomas Merton's famous prayer of seeking God's will in which he says, "Nor do I really know myself, and the fact thatI think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so."
REFLECTINGRecently I have been spending time reading Gerard Hughes' book, "God, Where Are You?" As he describes his journey to the Jesuit priesthood from his childhood days he often finds that what he thought was God's will was actually himself creating his idea of what God wanted. He recounts on numerous occasions plunging into what at the time seemed as service to God in his various activities throughout his life, only to find that it was mostly about him and his desire to feed his ego. Reflecting on these memories was key in his increasing realization that God was not just about the Catholic Church or his own desires, but was universal in ways that he never comprehended. Encouraged by Hughes' writing I began to take my own journey.
Yes, God's thoughts are not my thoughts nor or His will necessarily reflective on I think it to be. We hear in not only Isaiah, but also in the Responsorial Psalm and in the Gospel of God's ways. Just reminiscing on my most recent years, I have found that many of my actions that I considered were holy and at the time might have been, later became more about me being recognized as being a good Catholic and promoting the good of the Church.
WORKING FOR WHO?And what about others. I labor hard in the vineyard of life and what to be rewarded with just pay and find myself slighted when others might receive recognition for their hard work. I become envious (MT 20:15) and then resentful. How is this person recognized and not me. There is always a lesson and find that most of the time it is about humility. Can I serve God in this manner? At times I feel the need to retreat, reflect and pray for the desire to better serve.
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that I am not God, nor do I know what God's plan is for me or for others. Pretending to do so only causes myself emotional anguish and pain for those around me. However, I take solace in the fact that I am not idly standing in the vineyard waiting for something to happen, as I prefer work. I don't always agree with the outcome or wages that God provides, but there is an acceptance that in the long run, it is better for me.
Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude 1956
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.