Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mixed messages

Did you ever have one of those days? Well, I'm having one of those months. It's been an endless string of things not going according to plan, and, to tell you the truth, it's wearing me down. Normally I go to God with a laundry list of things I need, but these days I'm so mentally and spiritually exhausted that I just sit there, saying, What? What? WHAT?!?!? I keep waiting for a sign, an answer, something to let me know I'm not veering off course, but I have to admit that I'm starting to think that maybe I am, in fact, off course, way off course.

How do we know if we're following God's plan? What if we think we're doing His will, but we're completely off base and don't even know it. What if we're misinterpreting the messages, misreading the signs? I mean, most of the time God is pretty subtle. I have yet to be knocked off my horse or even my kitchen chair. I keep thinking that I'm moving in the right direction with my spiritual writing, with my prayer life, with my effort to try to do the right thing on a day-to-day basis. But when I run into brick walls at just about every turn, it makes me stop and think about whether God and I are using the same game plan.

Does any of that make sense? Do you ever just pause and think, Wow, what if I'm not meant to be in this particular place in my life, what if I'm missing something big. I guess I'll never know. I guess I'll just keep sitting before God and shouting my eternal, WHAT?!?! But it would we be nice to at least get a clue.

It's good sometimes to realize that even the greatest spiritual masters felt confused or unsure of their path at times. Here, again, is Thomas Merton, who provides me with endless comfort because he was so willing to put his human weakness out there for all to see. He reminds me that even the saints stood before God and asked, What? What? What?

Read and reflect and, please, share your insights:

"MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. - Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"


Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...


Your loving and deep desire to please God is keeping you in the right place. No need to worry about "What if..." because He has you right in the palm of His hand. It's all about TRUST and SURRENDER.

God bless and hugs,

Robyn said...

Hi Mary,
It was so good to read this tonight.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Always good to hear from Merton, and you, too. :)

Jason Kramer said...

I have to admit to a very different approach. I do not think God has a plan for me, or for anyone.

Perhaps it is just me, but I have always had a problem integrating the notion of an "interventionist" God with my firm (and Catholic) belief in freewill.

I tend to think of our lives as proving grounds. In this wonderfully designed world He has set many things in motion. Our ability to navigate these things - blessings or challenges - becomes the measure of our worth.

We are not an "elect" people, but must, through thoughts and deeds chart a course as instructed by God.

As this belief has developed it has had a massive impact on my prayer life. I know pray to God only for his continued patience and mercy - to give me a little more time to get things right. I tend to ask for the Holy Mother and saints to watch over my children.

Maybe I am way off of this.

Kathy Rainwater said...

I love the words of the fathers of our faith - Merton is a favorite. There is nothing new under the sun, even spiritual dry spells and doubts.

Thanks for pointing me to this post, Mary. And thank you again for mentioning my blog. I am truly grateful for the ways God is using this tool (the web) to encourage His people around the world!