"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Is Your Why Working Well?

By Micky Wolf

Most of us desire to make good choices, to act in ways befitting a Christian. And yet, we can find ourselves floundering at times, wondering what our next step might be. It seems there are occasions (too many?) when the more we struggle to understand what God is calling is to, the more uncertain we become. The seriousness of this muddling is addressed in James 1:5-8:

But if any of you lacks, wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways. 

In listening to well-intentioned folks over the years, I have discovered one question in particular, if thoughtfully reflected upon, will provide the seeker with invaluable insight to living in God’s will: “Why am I choosing or doing A, B, or C?”

Seem too simple or obvious? Surprisingly enough, those truly desiring God’s will find this to be much more challenging than they initially anticipated. However, for those willing to delve deeper, the revelation can prove to be well worth the time spent in prayer or reflection.

Honesty first…

We know being honest about what we are thinking and feeling regarding any person or situation is a good thing. At the same time and on any given day, we can be pretty effective at deceiving ourselves—about ourselves. Who wants to look at the yuckier stuff? The pride? The impatience? The self-centeredness of my way is the best way?

If we hope to ask God for wisdom for direction (who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly) we have to prepare our hearts to receive that wisdom. Which means, the more forthright we are, the better.

An easy ‘out’ on this one is to exclaim, “But God knows what’s going on, so it’s not like I need to point this stuff out to him.” True. But, that’s not why He wants to hear it from our own lips. Giving voice to what we are thinking and feeling about our strengths and weaknesses, informs usabout us.

Whether we actually speak out loud, or simply form our thoughts into words which we whisper from our hearts, the result is what is important.

This was brought home to me in a very personal way in recent months.

I recently rejoined a group I had been a (welcomed) member of for a number of years, but had stepped away from for a number of ‘honest’ reasons: I needed the time for writing, for meeting with directees, for being a good wife, for this…and for that…Well, you get the idea.

The truly honest reason I discovered when I allowed God to search my heart with the “Why was I staying away question?” Fear. Fear of being misunderstood or rejected for being me, warts and all. Fear of not having it all together. Fear of making a fool of myself.

Did that mean I had not been me earlier? No. It simply meant that in passing through several deeply life-changing experiences, (the death of my mother, returning to school, a painful relationship issue), I was now much more comfortable being me. It had nothing to do with them. They had been accepting of me all along.

Embracing faith…

I don’t know about you, but my requests to the Lord asking for wisdom are too often shrouded in a veil of unbelief. For all that I know about God, especially through Scripture, there can be the tiniest bit of  d-o-u-b-t. “Really, God? Are you really going to give me insight that I can apply to daily life? I mean the specifics, God?”

I used to get really impatient with myself for doubting God. Yep, one of those aforementioned fears of appearing to not have it all together. My attitude these days? So what? Maybe the first and foremost reason we have the story of ‘doubting’ Thomas is to assure us that even the most faith-filled and believing saint is going to have one-of-those-days now and then.

Getting honest about our tendency to doubt is to find the courage to wield the key called faith—and that most assuredly opens the door to hearing and receiving the wisdom of the Lord.

Spirit and flesh…

Being brave enough to ask the “Why” question takes us to the root of our motivations, which is probably one of the more powerful incentives to dodge this process.

When the Lord pointed out my fear, it became obvious that if I hoped to behave as a Christ-follower, I had to accept I was, in effect, cooperating with the motivation behind the fear—self-protection rather than trusting God in all things.

The unsettling truth is that anytime an examination of our motivations shows us we are more interested in playing it safe or looking or sounding good than we are in being real and authentic, we have made the choice to move from the flesh rather than the Spirit. Had Jesus made that choice, he would have passed on the cup and walked away from the Cross.

In the end…

If we’re being honest, it’s no fun and gets mighty wearisome trying to cover or disguise our yucky places rather than surrender to God’s Truth in Love and be the unique person He has created each of us to be.

If we’re cavorting with doubt, our double-mindedness will effectively serve as a barrier in preventing us from moving forward in faith.

And if we are more interested in making choices that assuage and massage our ideas of self rather than embracing the promises of God, we will be tossed about in a sea of discontent, unsure and unstable.

Why am I about to make this choice and take this action?”

Ask. From the heart. Wisdom awaits.

Do I find it difficult to get honest with myself, about myself?

Am I more inclined to dance with doubt or embrace God’s Truth?

How do I feel about going before the Lord with my “Why(s)?”


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