“If you think you sense the will of God in your life in some long-range, highly detailed plan, something you can see stretching out with clear goals and successes into the future, that is not the will of God. If, however, you have an insistent sense that the next, very hesitant step beyond which you can see nothing is in fact the step that must be taken, that is most likely the will of God for you.”
My spiritual director wanted me to get the point. So, she adds the rest of Wright’s reflection on this encounter as follows.
“What are we assuming when we ask to know God’s will? Are we imagining a God who, like a master planner, has a five-year, ten-year, or lifetime plan mapped out for us and leaves it up to us to figure out what is is? Do we harbor such a deterministic notion of divinity? Are our discernments basically concerned with ‘getting it right,’ with making the choice that down the road we will be able clearly to see was ‘correct’ because everything came out in the end in a neatly wrapped, manageable package? Do we live with this sort of tidy, self-protective, predictable kind of God?”
She rephrased that last question for me and directed it at me. Directly. She knows me well. She knows that I’m able to offer this wisdom to others, but have trouble hearing it myself. I keep re-reading these words in my email this week. I need to hear them. Moreover, I hear them echoed in the story of Nicodemus that I’m preparing to preach. What if Jesus, our spiritual director, used these words instead? Would we hear this wisdom any better than we do in the gospel?