Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Knowing God's Will

I hate decisions. (If you really want to know how much I hate them, imagine that last sentence uttered with the spittle-spewing, rage-in-defeat-induced vigor of Mad Madam Mim.) Oh, how do I hate them? Let me count the ways . . .

I hate decisions, but I like having things decided—and that latter fact is my greatest incentive to decide. Even the wrong decision is better than having things up in the air. Perhaps this insatiable and unenviable urge to have things nailed down is the reason why conservatism and Catholicism are so appealing to me. None of this different strokes stuff. Standards. Bright lines. Dogma. Yeah, papal infallibility! I want to know Jesus Christ was God, not just have a fine historical hunch.

And in the same way, since he is God, I'd like to know whether he wants me to drink that orange juice.

. . .

No, really. C'mon, Jesus! What about that "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death thou art with me" thing? Remember, he who is faithful in small things is faithful in great. I'm asking you, and I'd really like to know. Orange juice? Or coffee? Would it be gluttonous to drink both? What if I don't touch the bagel . . . until 10:30?

. . .

O . . . K; how about this one. Do I go to Mass at St. Sinner Incorporated (of the quasi-heretical homilies) or should I make the walk down to Our Lady of Righteous Assistance (under the shadow of Legionaries, SSPX, and heaven knows what other holy terrors)? Where would you rather meet me? Remember, we have a date at noon.

. . .

Hey Lord, it's me. Yeah, calling in from Our Lady of Righteous Assistance. Is this what you wanted? Because if you said anything to me this morning, I didn't hear it. I've got a big decision coming up. One of those work/career/vocational things. Now, you haven't been very . . . er . . . vocal lately, so I'm hoping this'll be another story. Do I go for it, or don't I? Stick my neck out, or stay put? I need your help, Lord . . .

. . .

Criminitly! I thought you wanted me to do it. I was sure you said . . . And what now, Lord? What about all that wasted time and effort? Is this the way you treat your halfbacks—call the play for us and then go sit on the benches? You know, for a best friend you can be kind of embarrassing. Is this what you've had me praying "Thy will be done" for for years?

Yes. Yes, this is why. Precisely for a moment like this.

I don't understand. You mean you wanted me to fail?

You could put it that way.

But why? You know if you just told me what you wanted I'd do it in a minute; I couldn't help but do it; I—

I know that.

But you wanted me to fail.

Would you have—what was that expression?

Stuck my neck out?

Would you have stuck your neck out, if I'd told you all your efforts would come to nothing in the end? If I'd let you know you weren't going to get the thing you stuck your neck out for? Of course not. You're not stupid—usually. If you'd known I didn't mean you to succeed, then you would have said that it "Wasn't my will" for you to succeed, and so you would never have tried. And truly, it wasn't my will for you to succeed—but it WAS my will for you to try.

To try and fail?

Why do you say "fail" as if it were a disease? Remember, by the standards of the world, I failed. They crucified me. Yes, I wanted you to try. If you'd never tried, you'd never have learned what you now know about yourself and those around you. And you'd never have earned all the graces from all those prayers . . . mostly asking to know my will. A misguided request, perhaps; but they were prayers nonetheless, and as such the forms and effects and causes of grace. And then there are even those other graces you could have earned by taking your failure more . . . gracefully. Yes, I wanted you to try. And I wanted you to fail, because if you'd succeeded at this, you'd have missed what I really wanted you to . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lord! Lord, wait, you're cutting out! Lord! Come back! I'm listening—this time! No, really! What did you really want me to—

Yes, I'm here. Can't you understand me? All these years you've been praying, "Not my will, but thine be done." And all these years you've been afraid that MY WILL will be something so very different from YOUR WILL that it will be a great challenge to DO IT. Don't you understand that if we really love each other, that will never be the case? It's not what you do, but the way you do it, that runs into the danger of being "not my will."

And have you never considered, that maybe it's my will for you to be in ignorance sometimes?
I asked for your trust, which is something greater than your obedience. I didn't tell you to KNOW my will but to DO it. You can't know absolutely what I want, this side of heaven. It's neither your privilege nor your job. As long as you love me, you will be doing my will. You will make the "right" decisions. Yes, even if you fail. As long as you love me . . . If ye love me, keep my commandments. And the greatest of them is 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart . . .'

OK, Lord. Thank you, I guess . . . Nice pseudo-tautology, btw. I never caught that before.

But, um, Lord. Does this mean I can have the bagel now?


  1. *laughs* I was thinking that as I finished it, but I didn't start out with that in mind. Unlike with Wumpick.