Do we not often get caught up with God’s will for our life? We seem to seek out glimpses of God’s plan as if it’s a blueprint or map where the directions are pre-determined. The other week I was on a panel discussion about vocation and I began chatting with a guy named Andy about discernment. Having an understanding of Ignatian spirituality, he knew the importance of free choice in our life’s path. God is not like some divine GPS, he said. It’s not as if there’s a specific route laid out and if we deviate from that path God says, “Make the next legal U-turn.”
When we talk about “God’s will” what we really mean is God’s desire. Desire encompasses hopes, dreams, and discernment, not blindly following a pre-determined route. The route we take is built in collaboration with God. Does God guide us, help us navigate, nudge us from time to time? Yes. Ignatian spirituality tells us that God nudges us by way of the good spirit and by feelings of consolation and desolation. What we feel, pray with, and discern offers us signs of God’s nudging. I discovered this other image online when I googled “divine GPS”:
In some ways I suppose it’s nice if God just tells us where to go and we go. But I don’t believe God is the one saying, “Take the next left.” Instead, God shows us that we can go left or right, and based on what we know about where we came from and trusting that God will be on the road ahead, it is we who make the decision to take the next left or right. And if we take a turn that ends up not being the best choice, God works with that and still accompanies us. If we look out the window we’ll discover new route options ahead that may or may not include returning to the same path before.
Ignatian spirituality tells us that how we find our direction is first through the discernment of spirits, regular prayer, and approaching our decisions in freedom. As we steer through life we are collaborating with God on a greater plan—that is, a greater desire for the world. It’s a lot more than just following directions.
|Visit GodInAllThings.com/discernment for more on this great collaboration with God.|
Related post: Is the self and free will an illusion?
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Music by Kevin MacLeod