How do you know if you are truly doing God’s will? It’s easy when His will is clearly spelled out in scripture. Yet there are so many minor decisions in our lives that it’s simply hard to know if you are following your own desires or if He is leading you step by step.
St John of Tobolsk in his book, The Sunflower, has spelled out a pretty accurate checklist for me to think about when I am discerning God’s will. He is a much more profound writer and would never use a thought like checklist, but I am using my own words to tell you what I discerned from his book that spoke directly to my soul and answered my questions. If you would like a more theological, inspiring and well-written explanation, I highly recommend his book.
The first sign that you are tracking with God’s will is that you find yourself eager to do God’s will. The sign that you are eager to do God’s will is that you ask Him what His will is before you get too attached to what you want His will to be for you. This is hard for me. I think I know best. It seems obvious that my friend should be miraculously healed from cancer, but that might not be God’s will. Am I as eager to cling to God’s will being done if it would mean that she would not survive this life? To be eager to see God’s will done is to completely trust God with outcomes that you cannot understand but you still trust Him with an eager spirit.
If you truly submit to God’s will with an eager desire, you will be rewarded with a great peace in spite of the difficulties. Suppose you do not know the outcome of your friend’s cancer, God has not assured you He will heal her, but He didn’t say He would not. You can have peace even when you face difficulties, even when the scans show the cancer has spread.
The eagerness and peace leads you to a deep humility that is the beginning of a deeper connection to God. When you can believe that your will that she be healed may not be what is best for her and only God knows what is best, then you have humbled yourself before the God who not only knows best, but the God who loves best.
Then you will feel the complete trust in God even when you can’t see or understand what He is doing in your prayer life or in your friend’s life.
The trust is evidenced in the fifth sign which is silence. You do not complain to anyone but God about the circumstances of your friend’s life. You know that she doesn’t deserve cancer any more than you, but that God alone is deciding on when and how healing takes place in your life and in hers.
Lastly, you are ready to accept all hardships, or as Iris Pearce always encourages: “Go down trusting.” When your friend’s death from cancer does not alter your trust in God’s goodness and His perfect will, then you have truly had the spiritual experience of aligning your will to God’s will.
It’s never easy to let your soul authentically pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As you struggle to pray authentically, perhaps these signs will help you as they have helped me.