Chapter Eight: The Will of God and the Example of Jesus

The Colorado River, River Island State Park, Parker, AZ

The Gospel of Matthew, 7:21-27:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Up through chapter six, I had been consistently drawing connections from one chapter to the next, from one subject to another.  In chapter seven, I took a short detour from this pattern because I felt the need to investigate the notion that all the hardship in my life was due to either the Ordaining or Permitting Will of God. The idea that adversity is sourced in God’s Will was not immediately obvious to or swiftly accepted by my intellect, so I had to spend time getting comfortable with it. 

Now that this is accomplished, I want to get back to making connections.  In this chapter, I want to begin by establishing the link between Spiritual Poverty and conformity of my will to the Will of God.  To get started, here is one last quote from chapter nine of Love’s Reply to refresh my memory about where I left off:

Again, he who wishes to be absolutely poor must be ready to renounce his own will, even though this is the most difficult form of such poverty.  Time and again Francis warned his friars against the danger of considering their will as a possession they could use or abuse according to their own whims.  The power of choice is itself a gift given us by God, which ultimately belongs to him and must be used in accordance with his will.  True obedience is thus an essential element of absolute poverty.

I can immediately see how elegantly this passage dovetails with the end of the quote on Perfect Joy by Francis in chapter seven.  There, Francis said about all the Goodness in my life, “in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God.”  In this quote, Esser and Grau extend this concept to the gift of free will itself.  My very “power of choice is itself a gift given me by God.”

In chapter six, as I described Spiritual Poverty, I made this statement: “I no longer live according to my own desire.  Instead, I live according to the desire of God.”  As this chapter begins, I think it is fitting to alter this quote slightly, exchanging the word “will” for the word “desire.”  As the road I am traveling moves from Spiritual Poverty toward conformity with the Will of God, I now want to assert that the best way to express what I am seeking is this:

“I no longer live according to my own will.  Instead, I live according to the Will of God.” 

If I do not return the gift of my will to God but instead seek to possess it as my own, I defeat this statement straight away and my will becomes firmly located in the realm of worldly desire.  In opposition to article eleven of the Rule, it becomes the tool I use to acquire the excess “temporal goods” I am meant to be detached from.  Even worse, my will, in its worldly state, inevitably “yearns for the possession and power” that drags me into a state of nearly uncontrollable sinfulness.

To avoid this, I must think of my will in terms of what has gone before.  If I am going to enact self-denial, the main target of my discipline is my will itself.  Likewise, I must think in terms of my will when I seek to embrace Spiritual Poverty.  It is my will, above all else, that must be suppressed when I seek to integrate gratitude, Penance, Metanoia and self-denial into an embrace of Spiritual Poverty that imitates the example that Jesus set for me by His gospel life.   

Only when I link my will to Spiritual Poverty and return it to God along with all my other worldly desires can I fully open my ability to return God’s Love to Him.  Once I eliminate the willful desires that distract me from God, I can consider what comes next.  Will I simply sit gazing at Him for eternity in an act of perpetual prayer?  Or is it more likely, now that He has my complete attention, that He has work for me to do?  Work related to advancing His plan for the expansion of Love within Creation, perhaps?

If I believe that my individual life has purpose beyond prayer, then it is clear God and I are not meant to just stare at each other.  As glorious as it is to dwell in His Presence, this is not the sum of all that I was created for.  My responsibility becomes to identify and cooperate in His plans in the unique way that my distinctive set of talents allows.  To do that, I need to align my will with His as a fulfillment of the position of Spiritual Poverty that I have adopted in my relationship with Him. 

It is in discerning the specifics of His Will that I travel the final leg of the course I have been charting, the leg that takes me from Spiritual Poverty through the Will of God to an eternal encounter with the One who so Lovingly Created me.  The decision to forego my will in favor of fulfilling His is the culmination of all that I have been considering.

_________________

This story from the beginning of Book Two of Heliotropium speaks elegantly to the idea that conforming my will to His is the last step in securing an eternal encounter with Him:

A learned and religious man desires more than anything else to meet someone who can teach him the most direct route to Heaven.  One day, he hears a voice that says, “Go to the front porch of the church and you will find the man you seek.”

When he arrives, he finds a beggar covered in sores sheltering on the porch.  He wishes the beggar a good day, and the beggar replies “I do not remember ever having a bad one.”  The man amends the greeting and wishes the beggar good fortune, to which the beggar replies, “I never had any bad fortune.”  The man tries again, wishing the beggar happiness.  The beggar responds in similar fashion; “I never was unhappy.”  Finally, the man, thinking the beggar is just playing word games with him, says to the beggar, “I desire that whatever you wish may happen to you.”  The beggar answers with unnerving consistency; “All things turn out according to my wishes, but I do not attribute my success to fortune.”

The learned man is intrigued by this last response because the beggar has dismissed fate as a player in his condition.  He congratulates the beggar and asks him how he has managed to escape misfortune.   The beggar replies with this statement about completely accepting the will of God:

“I am perfectly contented with the lot God has assigned me in the world.  Not to want happiness is my happiness.  Fortune hurts him only who wills, or at least fears, to be hurt by it.  I offer my prayers to my Heavenly Father who disposes all things.  I say I never was unhappy since all things turn out according to my wishes.  If I suffer hunger, I praise my most provident Father for it.  If cold pinches me, if rain pours down upon me, or if the sky inflicts upon me any other injury, I praise God just the same.  When I am a laughingstock to others, I no less praise God.  For sure I am that God is the author of all these things, and that whatever God does must be best.  Therefore, whatever God either gives, or allows to happen, whether it be pleasant or disagreeable, sweet or bitter, I esteem alike, for all such things I joyfully receive as from the hand of a most loving Father; and this one thing I will —- what God wills. And so all things happen as I will.  This is true happiness in this life, to cleave as closely as possible to the Divine Will.” 

The religious man is now further intrigued.  He seeks to test the beggar, so he asks him, “What if God decreed that you be cast down into hell?”  The beggar replies by doubling down on his devotion:

“I have two arms of wondrous strength, and with these I should hold God tightly in an embrace that nothing could sever.  One arm is the lowliest humility shown by the oblation of self, the other, purest charity shown by the love of God.  With these arms I would so entwine myself round God, that wherever He might banish me, thither would I draw Him with me.  It is far more desirable to be out of Heaven with God than to be in Heaven without Him.”

This answer astonishes the learned man.  When the voice told him to go to the porch of the church, he expected to find a fellow sophisticate.  He is beginning to realize that it is this beggar that holds the answers to his desire.  

Needing to understand more, he asks the beggar, “Where did you come from?”  The beggar replies, “From God.”  And then, “Where did you find God?”  To which the beggar responds, “Where I forsook all created things.”  And finally, “Who has taught you these things?”  The beggar answers: 

“For whole days I do not speak, and then I give myself up entirely to prayer or holy thoughts, and this is my only anxiety, to be as closely united as possible to God.  Union and familiar acquaintance with God and the Divine will teach all this.”   

The man is now completely convinced that the beggar is describing for him the fastest way to heaven.  He recalls this quote from Scripture; “Thou has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.”  The story closes with this thought from the seeking man:

“Lo! These two arms of unconquerable strength.  Oblation of self and Love of God draw God whithersoever this poor mans wills!  With these two arms God permits Himself to be closely bound; other embraces He refuses.”

This story has all the components of my road.  The beggar is full of gratitude to God even though God continually sends him adversity.  In an embrace of true Penance and Metanoia, the beggar not only turns to God with all his being, but He embraces God so tightly that God is drawn to wherever he is.  Self-oblation, which forms one half of his unyielding hold on God, is just another term for self-denial.  He declares his Spiritual Poverty when he says he found God “where he forsook all created things.”  This clearly means not just material things, but all earthly yearning for power and possession as well.  And his Love for God is the second arm of the unshakeable grip he uses to never allow himself to be separated from God.

This story also hearkens directly to the definition of Perfect Joy given by Francis in the last chapter.  The beggar clearly Loves and obeys God unconditionally despite being besieged by all sorts of earthly adversity and hardship.  He not only professes the joy he finds in accepting the hardship sent to him by the Will of God, but he is also full of the faith, belief, and hope that I spoke of as virtuous assets required for my journey to succeed.

And it is all wrapped up in the statement “I will —- what God wills.  True happiness in this life is to cleave as closely as possible to the Divine Will.” 

_________________

I believe this beggar would agree with the assertion at the end of chapter six that Spiritual Poverty is “the full integration and acceptance of” the demands of gratitude, Penance, Metanoia, and self-denial.  I can thus hope that I have grounded the belief and faith of my journey on the rock that Jesus speaks about in the gospel at the head of this chapter.  This foundation has a chance to withstand the rain, wind, and rising water, but the world and the enemy will continually seek to undermine it and cause the full house that is my relationship with God to come down in a “great crash.”

But the beggar would also consider the construction unfinished.  He places too much emphasis on the Will of God for the job to be complete.  He would assert that if I am to “draw Him” to the meeting place I am constructing, then His Will must play its part.    

Jesus confirms this assumption when he links the two pieces of the gospel passage with the phrase “everyone who hears these words……”  The balance of my construction project, the meat of the house that sits on the foundation, is defined at the start of the passage when Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

This is the key that everything else points to.  The secret to a complete relationship and eternal encounter with God is the discernment and implementation of His Will. 

The next verse drives this conclusion home.  Those hypothetically speaking with Jesus argue that they prophesied, drove out demons and performed miracles in His Name, and thus they should be welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus answers, “I never knew you.  Away from me you evildoers!”  They are denied entry despite what seem to be great works that should make them worthy?  How can this be?

The context makes it clear that these works were not performed at the bequest of God.  They were done according not to His Will, but according to the will of those who performed them.  They did these things for their own glory, not God’s.  Thus, even though the works seem to be what God would want, they are flawed.  In the context of the analogy to a house, the works would not withstand the rain or the wind because they were not reinforced by the Will of God.  Despite the appearance of their goodness from a worldly perspective, they were not pleasing to God, and thus they failed to meet the definition of sound practice where the construction of a relationship with God is concerned. 

For me, this is eye opening.  It tells me that I am incapable of judging what is good and what is not.  I would assume that if I could prophesy, drive out demons, and perform miracles, that I was automatically doing the Will of God.  But this passage says this is not so. 

The reason I was reading about the Will of God on my trip was a story I read about St. Anthony of Padua, who set out for Moorish Africa determined to become a martyr.  As he crossed the Straights of Gibraltar, he became ill and was forced to recuperate after his landing.  During his recuperation, it became clear to him that martyrdom was his idea, not God’s.  He sought to become a martyr because of the earthly adulation and glory he would receive when his body was returned to Portugal, not because he was following the Will of God.  He set out thinking that God automatically willed the martyrdom of anyone inclined to seek it.  But he was forced to accept that such a desire can come from the hearts of men and can in fact be sinful despite the great service to God it would appear to represent.  

As was discussed in the last reflection, I am unqualified to see the big picture.  What I judge as desirable may in fact be sinful.  I cannot rely on my own capacity when deciding what form the structure of my relationship with God will take and what actions are needed for the construction to progress.

Instead, my ability to complete the structure of my relationship with God depends entirely on my ability to conform myself to His Will.

The quote from Love’s Reply ends with the assertion, “true obedience is thus an essential element of absolute poverty.” 

This obedience articulates the full link between Spiritual Poverty and the Will of God that I am trying to express.  It is integral to the road I am taking.  If I want to make it to the end, if I want to make it to salvation and eternal encounter with God, then I must deny my own will.  No matter how much confidence I have in my own judgment, I must resolutely obey the Will of God to the exclusion of my all too human machinations.

_________________

In the discussion on Spiritual Poverty in chapter six, I made some intellectual arguments regarding the importance of embracing Spiritual Poverty when seeking to live a proper Christian life.  But then I went on to suggest that these arguments could be trumped by the example of Jesus in the gospels.  The gospels, in their entirety, are a call by Jesus to leave the world behind and to, in an attitude of perfect Penance and self-denial, adopt Spiritual Poverty completely.  If this was the example that Jesus set, then, regardless of whatever intellectual reasons I contrive in support of Spiritual Poverty, His example by itself should be enough to convince me.   

There is a similar argument to be made regarding conformity to the Will of God.  In the end, despite the arguments I made above, it is the example of Jesus that is instrumental in the final tipping of the scales.  (This was hinted at in chapter seven when I was discussing adversity.  If you recall, Fr. Jeremias was almost apologetic about using any story other than the Passion as justification for the adversity sent to us through the Will of God.)  

This next gospel passage is my favorite above all others.  If I had my way, every church would have some version of the Garden of Gethsemane on its grounds, and every Holy Thursday procession would end there, regardless of the weather.  As Francis argued in his discussion of Perfect Joy, cold and rain can only enhance our understanding of the suffering that Jesus endured during His Passion.

The Gospel of Matthew, 26:36-44:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Let me begin by noting that when I look at this passage, I find all the justification God needs to send me adversity.  I am represented here by “Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.”  Peter has already boasted that He will suffer whatever Christ suffers, even unto death.  Not only will Peter fail to stay loyal to Jesus in what is to come, but he is also unable to fulfill the relatively easy task of “keeping watch” with his friend and professed Lord in His tribulation.  And I even see John, who is never depicted as failing Christ, failing here.  He falls asleep just like the other two.

I am specifically guilty of this every year on Holy Thursday.  I firmly believe that Jesus can act out of time, and that His request to keep watch is a request to me.  I am invited, after Holy Thursday services, to spend “one hour” supporting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He can make me truly there in that moment in history.  Despite that belief, I have never succeeded in this.  Even in the couple times that I have stayed for an hour after the services, I was never able to “keep watch” for that entire hour.  I was lucky if I made it five minutes before distraction overwhelmed me and my thoughts began to wander aimlessly. 

When I do stay for one hour, I am inevitably the last one there.  No one else stays for that hour despite the specific request by Jesus in the Scripture.  We do not seem to hear Him, or to believe that He can transport us with Him to that moment in time.  All of us are guilty of “falling asleep” just as his closest disciples did that night.  All of us deserve correction for this before we even begin to consider the rest of our sinful lives. 

(If you asked me for just one act of Penance and Metanoia to fulfill, this is the task I would give you.  After Holy Thursday services, stay with Jesus for at least one hour, but preferably much longer.  Turn toward Him for that time with your full being.  For the entire time, pray to Him repeatedly for the wherewithal to deny yourself completely so that you may begin to understand the Spiritual Poverty and Obedience that was at the core of His life on earth.  Then resolve to repeat that act in some regular fashion going forward.  If we all did this, the world would be a much different place.

If you try this, and you are honest with yourself in how you evaluate your effort, you will conclude that “your spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak.”  You will begin to understand just how far you must go if you wish to emulate the saints.)

I am not used to seeing Jesus in such a troubled state.  The closest I might recall is Him going through the temple overturning tables or Him weeping at the death of Lazarus.  But those are not the same.  Here He is troubled on His own account.  Usually, He is in such complete control that he transcends normal human concern.  But in this scene, He shows his humanity more than in any other place in the gospels.

He does not want to go through the pain and anguish that He knows is coming.

And because of who He is, He could choose to avoid it.  If you watch the movie The Passion of the Christ, this is the opening scene.  The enemy is depicted speaking with Jesus, and this is the argument he/she makes.  “No one can take on the burden of all of humanity’s sins.  It is too costly.”  Jesus responds with the prayers to His Father in the Scripture above.  It is almost as if the presence of the enemy is just what Jesus needed to get over the hump.  He might have wavered, but the enemy’s plan backfired.  By talking to Jesus, he/she only solidified His resolve.

But the most telling thing for me is that Jesus, despite being the Son of God, is asking for His Father’s help and assistance, even for His Father to change the plan. 

When I discussed Spiritual Poverty, I made note of how Jesus often went off by Himself to pray.  This is counterintuitive.  Jesus, as a member of the Trinity, has direct access to the thoughts of God.  He should not need to go off separately to seek union with the Father.  By his nature, He is already one with God and thus they are always together, always aware of what the other is thinking or desiring.  He even asserts in Scripture that He is One with God.

It should be built into the nature of Jesus to know everything He needs in reference to God.  Yet He still prays to God regularly.  He does this for my benefit, to give me an example that encourages me to turn to God often in an attitude of Penance and Spiritual Poverty.  If Jesus feels the need to pray often to strengthen His relationship with God, how much more should I feel that same need?

The same is true regarding the Will of God.  Jesus would not seem to need to ask God what His Will is, or for help in seeing it through.  Their Wills are already joined.  As the Son of God, he should be able to “just do it.”  It shouldn’t be any harder for Him than putting on a pair of shoes is for us.

But here He is, in anguish, living out the moment like a normal human being.  He is full of sorrow and trouble just as I would be if facing such a trial.  He is seeking the comfort of His closest friends, just as I would in the circumstances.  He is hoping that it will not come to the worst, that somehow this trial will pass Him by, just as I would.

The difference between us is that He is fully committed to carrying out the Will of the Father regardless of the hardship.  Where I would be likely to cut and run, He tells the Father, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” and then, “may your will be done.”

He did not have to do these things in my sight.  He could have just showed up at the right spot at the right time and been arrested and done without all the angst in the Garden.  But it was imperative to His Mission that I see Him acquiesce to the Father’s Will because it is essential that I do so in turn.  He is not willing to ask me to do what He is unwilling to do, so He goes through the entire experience to demonstrate His unfailing solidarity with me. 

He knows that I need His example.  I need to know that it is possible to suffer through adversity and do the right thing in its midst.  I need to know that He can empathize with my hardship because He suffered His own hardship.  His difficulty did not start with His arrest, or His scourging.  It started with His anxiety in the Garden and the first hurdle He faced (and possibly the hardest) was staying obedient to the Will of His Father.  He succeeded in conforming to the Father’s Will despite the hardship, therefore I can as well. 

He wanted me to know how to say yes to the Father’s Will in the most difficult circumstances, and therefore He demonstrated for me how to do so.  He will not ask more of me than I can handle, and His example is there to see me through.  It is no different than His example of living a perfect life in reference to Spiritual Poverty.  Whatever He asks me to do, He firsts instructs me by the impeccable and Holy pattern of His earthly life. 

_________________

I have already quoted Article eleven of the OFS Rule in reference to Spiritual Poverty:

Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life.

Article ten says this about the Will of God and the example of Jesus:

Uniting themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed his will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. 

I have defined the overarching duty that is incumbent on me.  I am, without question, called to employ Spiritual Poverty as I endeavor to discern, embrace, and carry out the Will of God.  First and foremost, the Will of God calls me to participate in the primary plan of God, which is to expand the total amount of Love present in Creation.

As I reflect on that duty, I cannot help but think that these two articles of the Rule are instances of colossal understatement.  Just as it is easy to overlook the profundity of the Nativity, or of Jesus’ request that I keep watch with Him in the Garden, it is easy to overlook the words in these two articles of the Rule.

I need to stop and consider long and often the statement “Jesus chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life.”  The same holds true when I observe that “Jesus placed His Will into the Father’s hands.”

Either of those statements could be the subject of multiple books or an entire lifetime of contemplation.  It would take work that I am incapable of completing to fully explore and analyze the meaning of these exhortations.  That such few words can be so profound is unsettling, in a good way.

Francis, in his wisdom and simplicity, follows closely behind in chapter twenty-two of the Earlier Rule:

Now that we have left the world, however, we have nothing else to do but to follow the will of the Lord and to please him.

Oh!  Is that all?  Another example of grand understatement.  A very simple statement that represents an effort that is most surely beyond my ability to complete.

But Jesus knows this.  He does not expect that I will fulfill His entire Will in the next few moments.  What He desires is a commitment to begin the work of building that house, that structure of relationship, that we both know will take a lifetime to complete.

The house will not be perfect on the first try.  The foundation will need reinforcing.  The principles that form it will have to be revisited regularly so they can be bolstered as needed.  And the balance of the house, the parts that are constructed by my efforts to follow the Will of God, will surely remain a work in progress until the day my stay on this earth is completed. 

But I do not need the whole house to encounter Him.  He is willing, as I have seen, to meet me in the Garden for just an hour in ordered to get started.  My first step is to honor this request and join Him there.

That Garden is the beginning place.  It is the place where He demonstrates to me that no matter how much adversity I encounter, the house is possible.  God desires relationship with me.  Jesus desires relationship with me.  He came to show me how to align my will with His so I might participate in the building of that which He has already designed.  I just need to believe in Him and adhere to His obedient example.

The building blocks, in the end, consist of the Love that “never fails” as spoken of by Paul.  It is the Love that created me and the Love that sustains me moment by moment that provides the raw materials I need to succeed.  When I internalize that Love, and then return it to God by adhering to His Will, the engine of Creation that has Love as both input and output generates the materials I need to construct the house that is my relationship with God. 

Whether I have been fully aware of it or not, this Love has guided me along my journey in search of eternal encounter with God the entire time.  What I have been searching for has accompanied me on the way.  He guides me to the place where my house of relationship with God can withstand all assaults and safely reside.

His Love reveals to me that: 

  • “a frank recognition and acceptance of what it means to bear the human condition through the life God has given me to live on this Earth” is the launching point of my seeking.
  • I am His creature, and it is through Love that He Created and continually sustains me.
  • I am a sinner and that I must acknowledge my sinfulness before my journey back to Him can progress.
  • He knows I am a sinner, but He wants me to join Him in Heaven for all of eternity anyway.  To make this possible, He makes His Son present as my Savior continuously.  I need to believe in His Son, and to follow His example, if I wish to be redeemed.
  • faith, belief, joy, and hope are all invaluable assets as I make the journey.
  • when I accept His Saving Love in the core of my being, and make that Love the driving force behind how I interact with the world, then I cannot help but develop the overwhelming sense of gratitude that is required for my journey to succeed.
  • gratitude leads to Penance and Metanoia, which consist of “a change of mind, the complete and unceasing renewal of a man who tends to God with all his being.”
  • Penance and Metanoia lead me to let go of all concerns related to material and spiritual worldly entanglement in an attitude of complete self-denial.  My “yearning for power and possession” dissipate as my turn to Him matures. 
  • gratitude, Penance, and self-denial culminate in an embrace of Spiritual Poverty.  “What I desire no longer drives me.  Instead, I begin to want what God desires.”  The example of Spiritual Poverty that He set during His earthly life becomes the pattern I seek to imitate.
  • Spiritual Poverty leads to a state where my self-denial is most completely expressed by denial of my own will.  “What I will no longer drives me.  Instead, I begin to want what God Wills.”  When I conform myself to His Will, I become fully capable of realizing my role in His Plan for Creation.  I become fully capable of Loving as He desires and Wills for me to Love.
  • Even when I commit to following His Will, I remain capable of sin, and I still require correction at times.  To keep me moving in the right direction, He sends me adversity, which I am meant to accept gratefully, peacefully, and even joyfully, according to Jesus’ example.
  • I am to return His Love always, in times of prosperity, but more crucially in response to the adversity He sends me. I accept difficulty in the Spirit of Love that it is offered, knowing that it is in hardship that my adherence to His Will is most clearly displayed.  To the degree that I succeed, my house, the structure of my relationship with God, becomes stronger.  But the work is never complete.  I always must be searching and looking for the best way to discern God’s Will and how to fulfill it. 
  • Success in all of the above gives me hope for the eternal encounter with God that is the goal of the journey.

Even though the above is a summary of the full road that I laid out for myself to travel in chapter two, there is still a little more to consider. I must have some idea how to avoid the pitfall that St. Anthony encountered when he initially sought martyrdom.

To succeed, I must have some idea about how to truly set my will aside and discern God’s Will in specific circumstances.

Proceed to Chapter Eight A: The Will of God and Political Freedom

Back to Chapter Seven: God’s Will in Adversity

2 thoughts on “Chapter Eight: The Will of God and the Example of Jesus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: