This moment in history can be a tough time for anyone trying to live within the will of God. The many unforeseen changes, cancellations, and U-turns caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led us to rapidly abandon so many plans, projects, and dreams. Things that we were so set on, so sure of, are not nearly as certain anymore. This new long-haul reality perhaps has many of us asking, “God, what is Your will for me now?”
Since being home-bound, I’ve had much time to revisit my old book collection. In doing so, I came across a favourite from years ago: Finding God’s Will for You
by St. Francis de Sales. Diving back into its pages, it didn’t take long for me to realize how especially pertinent this book is today.
In this time when so many of us might be wrestling with or discerning God’s new direction, St. Francis de Sales’ words on the will of God are inspiring, spiritually challenging, and, most of all, very needed. I’d like to share some of his saintly wisdom with you, in hopes you feel the same!
Here are 7 things I learned from Finding God’s Will for You
1. “We have rejoiced to consider that God is not only the first principle but also the last end, the author, conserver, and Lord of all things.”
We often think of God as the beginner and ender of what we do — but how often do we think of Him as the sustainer or “conserver”? This quote stands out to me as it serves as a reminder that we must always look to God as things begin, come to an end, and especially, as they happen. It’s also interesting to think of how many numerous things God is sustaining in your life, even as certain things come to an end.
2. “Just as the rays of the sun do not cease to be true rays when shut out and thrust back by some obstacle, so God’s signified will does not cease to be God’s true will when we resist it.”
How many times have we resisted or diverted from the will of God, hoping it wouldn’t catch up to us? I can think of many instances in my life when I’ve done this — only to arrive back at the start, though foolishly more jaded and bruised than if I had listened and accepted in the first place.
3. “We are in this world not to do our own will but that of His Goodness, which has placed us here.”
This is another quote by St. Francis de Sales that puts everything right back into perspective. We are on Earth to ultimately do God’s will, and not ours. What humbling wisdom! At the end of the day it’s not even about our will.
4. “One of the best marks of the goodness of all inspirations and especially the extraordinary, is peace and tranquility of heart in those who receive them, since the Holy Spirit is violent, but with a violence that is gentle, mild, and peaceful.”
Much to my surprise, this is a piece of knowledge that keeps resurfacing in the wake of discernment and identifying the true will of God — the peace of heart. Mother Teresa was advised something similar
ahead of entering religious life. Pope Francis has likewise written and spoken of the unbounding peace and joy that occurs when you truly receive a call from God; a key element in directional discernment.
5. “If we have received good things from the hands of God, why shall we not receive the pains and toils he sends to us?”
This quote might be a hard pill to swallow. But interestingly, one that Job swallowed well throughout his afflictions. In Job 1:21, he says, “As it has pleased the Lord, so it is done: Blessed be the name of the Lord.” As St. Francis de Sales further mentions, “To bless God and to thank Him for whatever events His Providence ordains is truly a most holy exercise.”
6. “It is our part to plant and water carefully, but to give the increase belongs only to God.”
Do you feel a large weight off your shoulders reading this? I sure do! Yes, it’s our duty to do our very best for God in everything, but at the end of the day, the advancement — whether large or small — rests only with Him. Let’s be careful gardeners and, at the same time, trust the growth process over which we have no control!
7. “Life is in the will of God.”
This particular line captures the abounding beauty, peace, and life-giving joy found solely when we live within the will of God. For some reason these words always make me want to inhale and exhale deeply. Life is in the will of God!
Thank you, St. Francis de Sales!