What is God’s Will for My Life?
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine; the upright love thee.
Song of Solomon 1:4
What is God’s Will for My Life?
Christians often wonder about the work of the Christian life. With no small amount of anxiety, we find ourselves asking, “What is God’s will for my life?” or “What does God want me to do?” While it is important always to ask if our lives are conformed to God’s will, we too often focus these questions on outward things: activities, projects, jobs, money, and other such endeavors in this transitory world. The work to which a Christian is called, however, is chiefly an inner, secret work wrought deep within the soul. It is spiritual work, not carnal work. First seek the kingdom of God, and all else shall come to you.1Matt 6:33.
The Interior Life
Saint Paul often contrasts the life of the flesh with that of the Spirit. Even in the beginning he had to remind the churches what their true calling is.2See, for example, Rom 8:12-13; Gal 5:17. In fact, it is not the flesh that saves the Spirit, but the Spirit that saves, redeems, and glorifies the flesh. The Spirit, and therefore the inner work of the Christian, must be our primary focus. Christians are a people called to have a true interior life.
The Greatest of These is Love
Many pastors focus on outward signs such as speaking in tongues (a rudimentary form of non-conceptual prayer, of which silent, contemplative prayer is the highest expression). But the life of the Spirit is not to be found nor proven in these phenomena. Rather, the life of the Spirit manifests first in the hidden presence of the self-gifting love of God, enthroned in the secret chambers of the faithful heart.3See Matt 6. This is precisely the point of Paul’s argument about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians, the climax of which is his “hymn to love” in chapter 13. All outward phenomena without love avail to nothing. They are not signs of our salvation. Indeed, if they become points of pride then we possess them to our condemnation. The indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, sitting on the throne of faith, saves. To prepare the heart to be a dwelling place for the Lord is the inner work to which we are called. This is the only work that will outlast this life.
Martha and Mary
In the Christian exegetical tradition, the New Testament characters of Martha and Mary as discussed in Saint Luke’s gospel have come to represent these two ways: the active and contemplative life respectively. Luke recounts a time when Jesus stayed for a spell at the house of these two sisters. Martha (who was, we can guess, eager to please her Lord) busied herself with many tasks, seeking to show the best that hospitality could offer to her cherished guest. Meanwhile, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, which is what disciples do with their masters. Martha, understandably, was annoyed, and said as much. But Jesus replied, “Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her.”4 Luke 10:38-42.
This passage wonderfully affirms the one thing most needful in the Christian life: that we sit at our master’s feet, beholding him, listening to him, receiving him, cherishing him. This is not to say that Martha was not cherishing her Lord with her activity. Certainly she was. Still, Mary chose “the better part” in her more receptive stance before him. If the presence of her Lord is what Martha was after, if she desired to know her Lord and his will, then Mary’s action was the more successful at gaining this. This is the work that will not be taken away from us by any circumstance of this life, including death.
Discipleship and Contemplation: The Goal of Evangelism
What is the work a Christian is called to do? What is God’s will for your life? That he find you seeking him, at the feet of his Son, with the quiet thread of faith stitching your heart to his. We do well to take a lesson from Mary, who has chosen this better part. The contemplation of God is both the source and the end of any activity that would be Christian. It is the goal of evangelism: to make disciples of all nations, in the way that Mary was being a disciple. The contemplation of God grants to all our activity the fecundity, life, and purposes of God.
Mons Nubifer Sanctus: Christian spiritual training in the fullness of the ancient faith.
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|2.||￪||See, for example, Rom 8:12-13; Gal 5:17.|
|3.||￪||See Matt 6.|