O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63)
Most of us don’t agonize over what accessory to wear with our beige top; and most of us don’t have to stop to think about whether or not to pocket some contact lens fluid as we leave Shoppers.
But most of us modern Christians have at one time or another twisted ourselves out of shape wondering if a certain decision was "in God’s will" for us.
A herd of years ago I read a book called "Decision Making and the Will of God." I was an overly sober Christian on a spiritual comeback and I was convinced this book was going to provide me with a kind of formula, or template, with which to relieve me of the turmoil a collection of "bigger" decisions were causing me. I wanted to live, as they said, a "victorious" Christian life.
As the title promised the book did provide a decision making pattern. And I followed it as well as I could. But it did nothing to relieve me of decision making angst. Fact is, it exacerbated my spiritual anxiety. Not only did I worry about God’s will for me, I now worried about whether I was adequately following an apparently inspired formula.
Well, decisions were made and lived with. Some I regretted and brought heartache, some I was relieved over, and some brought delight and joy.
I suppose you could say the benefit of years has set in. I’m less sober these days, less grave, in many ways far more uncertain about things. (Some may not see this as a "benefit.")
I have no formula, no scheme, unless you want to call a desire for God–sometimes wavering sometimes deep and focused–a formula.
All this brings me to a poignant prayer I read the other evening in Thomas Merton’s journals. Perhaps it’s a prayer for you.
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 that 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 will I 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.