Last week I got an email from a reader who asked for prayer because she is trying to do something really “scary.” I expected her to go on to say she was moving to a Third World country or going to have to speak in public.
But what had her so scared was a recent decision to “surrender to God’s will.”
I so get this. Somewhere along the way, I too picked up the idea that the only thing scarier than missing God’s will for my life was signing up for it.
The logic of my fear went something like this: Since trials and hardship bring spiritual growth… and since God’s main concern is not our happiness, but our holiness… surely, his will for me is bound to bring misery, right?
Not long ago, I was in a recovery meeting when a woman I admire told us, “When I’m not sure what to do, I do whatever is hardest or will hurt the most, since that’s probably God’s will for me.”
I didn’t know whether to admire her more—or run screaming from the room.
Of course, God does allow us to suffer pain and he does use it to help us grow. And yes, the right choice is often a difficult one. But that doesn’t mean all suffering comes by God’s hand, or that his plans for our good always have to hurt.
Thankfully, I no longer believe that God doesn’t care about my happiness, or that he is so intent on my spiritual progress that he is bent on taking me down the most difficult path possible.
I think it’s just the opposite. If God is a perfect, loving Father, it has to be.
Think about how we are with our own kids. Sure, we allow them to learn hard lessons and suffer painful consequences so they’ll grow up to be good people who love God and others.
But if given half a chance, we’d also follow them around all day trying to ensure their landings were soft and their sufferings minimized.
I think God is like that with us. And if you ask me, the same logic applies to the idea of knowing God’s will for my life.
Back in the day, I didn’t think so. I thought God’s plan for me was a huge mystery that I had to solve–or else. If God was feeling generous, he might leave a few breadcrumbs on my path. But if I missed these signs and took a wrong turn, it was all my fault, and I might be stuck in God’s plan B—or even Z—forever!
Of course, God is not like that. Would you watch your own child taking a wrong turn and wait for her to get lost in order to make your point that she should pay closer attention?
When I first got into recovery, I was surprised at the ease with which most of these folks—many of whom had no religious background—spoke about God’s will. They didn’t seem to fear it, nor did they seem greatly mystified by it, either.
By their example, I came to understand the logic of love. I learned that I could trust God to guide me gently, without tricks or traps. And I learned that God’s will for me happens naturally as I surrender my own will to him.
I don’t have to search high and low.
I don’t have to be afraid of where God will take me next.
I only have to do the next right thing he’s placed in my path.
I’d love to hear your thoughts today. Do you ever feel afraid of God’s will?