For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.
–Irenaeus; Against Heresies, 4.20.7.
For Christians, finding God’s will is of supreme importance. Because we say we love God and believe He wants the best for us, we strive to live “in His will for us.” In the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, we say ”Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
However, many of us want a fax, a text, an email, a telegram, handwriting on the wall, God speaking in our ear…some direct form of communication from God that will tell us straight out what to do and which is the right path ahead. We want this because of our fundamental misunderstanding of God’s nature or our own laziness at putting in the work required in a relationship with God. These manifests themselves in a myriad of ways: 1) we are afraid of offending God because deep down we believe He is our adversary and not our greatest supporter; 2) it is easier to live by direct command than by faith; 3) if we make a mistake, however we might come to believe that, we don’t believe God will redeem it for our good; 4) we think if we find God’s will it will be like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and our life will be great as we define it. I’m sure you can think of other distorted reasons for finding God’s will.
Of course there are those of us who want to find God’s will because of our love for God and deep desire to please Him.
Regardless of your motivation, have you ever stopped to ask, “Regarding what I can discern, what is God’s fundamental will for me?”
Jules Toner, in his book, Discerning God’s Will, a study on Ignatius of Loyola’s writings on discernment, believes Ignatius understood God’s fundamental will for us to be for our greater glory. That’s right, our greater glory. Or, if we are not disposed toward Him, to lessen the harm to us. Toner puts it this way:
The greater glory that God wills for us is our greater participation in his eternal and infinite glory. It is from God its giver and to God who is glorified in us. It is in us as our fullness of life and for us whose happiness is in being glory to God and giving his glory to each other. (23)
It sounds circular, doesn’t it. God wants our greater glory so that we glorify Him. Not so, because it all precedes from God. One meaning of the word “glory,” as used in the Bible, is “the essence of a person.” So, God gives us His glory so that we might become truly who we were created to be: humans in relationship with Him. Only in this way can we escape our false identities woven out of the lies around us that tell us how we should live and what makes us significant.
As Irenaeus says, above, we glorify God by becoming all that He created us to be…fully human, and the only way that happens is in relationship with God. And this is the essence of our life-long journey with God: the gradual shedding of the lies so that our true selves begin to emerge. Only the experience of God’s love can cause such a transformation.
The greater glory that God wills for us is our greater participation in his eternal and infinite glory.
In practice, our desire to find God’s will is usually triggered by a choice before us. We try to find God’s will within the context of a specific concrete situation including the people involved. And, because we are each different, God’s will for me in a specific situation may differ from His will for you in a similar situation. As we ponder God’s will and finally choose, our choice must always, as far as we are able to ascertain, bring God the greater glory. Regarding what we have said above, this means that we choose that which we believe will bring us into closer relationship with Him.
Becoming our true selves in relationship with Him, that is His glory given to us and His fundamental will for us.