Friday, September 22, 2017 - Updated: 12:09 pm
QUESTIONS: On thinking about my future, what can I expect from God? Will God lead us to the right person to marry? Will God make it clear if a person is to be a priest or a nun? Are we wrong to expect this kind of clear guidance from God?
ANSWER: Some people expect to have the same experience as St. Paul on the road to Damascus. God’s will for him (at least as it is described in the Acts of the Apostles) was made so clearly. God spoke directly to him with specific instructions.
Such experiences, however, are unique, and it is unlikely that they will occur in the same way in most of our lives. Yet this does not mean that God is not concerned about our lives or futures. We should expect God to be involved in the major decisions of our lives.
It is our belief that God has a desire to save all of those who were created. Precisely how that salvation unfolds, however, is also influenced by one of God’s greatest gifts to us — our free will.
How then do we know what God “prefers” for us? I personally am a firm believer that God routinely uses natural signs and employs extraordinary means only when absolutely necessary. Therefore, I would suggest that God may speak through very ordinary means and instruments.
For example, if an individual whom you are dating does not share many of your most significant values (such as those regarding religion, children, fidelity, etc.), perhaps this is a genuine indicator that such a person may not be an appropriate life partner.
I also believe that God speaks through other people. It was not only the ancient prophets who spoke for God. It is quite possible that God speaks to us through our priests, teachers, friends and family members. Obviously it is possible that they too may be subjective in their viewpoints, but in many ways those whom we have learned to love and trust can be genuine instruments of God speaking to us.
In addition, and even more importantly, God speaks to our hearts. When we read about St. Paul we assume that everything was immediately clear to him. Yet if we listen to his whole story we may see things differently. He tells us in the Letter to the Galatians that he went “… off to Arabia” (Galatians 1:16-17). In fact, he says, he spent three years there discerning God’s will.
Are we willing to take our life decisions to the desert to spend time with the Lord? Are those decisions important enough that we are willing to clear away the noise and the activity of our lives so that we can hear the Lord’s voice? Are we willing to be patient as the Lord speaks to us? Remember, in the Old Testament, God’s voice was made known to the prophet Elijah not in the fire, or the earthquake or storm, but in a tiny whispering sound (1 Kings 19:11-12). Is there room in our lives for a whisper, or do we demand to see the storm?
Father Bober is pastor of St. Kilian Parish in Adams and Cranberry townships.