When we last met over our cups of coffee… (smile): In Parts one & two of “God’s in it All the Time,” I’ve been exploring various angles on free will. I’m moving to a place now where I want to connect that to personalizing it and wondering about my own call from God, vocation, and discernment. I ended part 2 with the wonder if God might adjust to all the various intersections (and collisions?) of our various, interdependent free wills. I hinted at a wonder at what I termed as a distinction between a “macro-will” and a “micro-will” of God.
I’m ready to dig back in!
(Important disclaimer: In the interest of minimizing linguistic clumsiness, I’m going to use the convention “I believe” where a more accurate term of my feelings might be something like, “I wonder if it could be that…” Please read on recognizing these grains of salt shaken generously on my humble pie, and realize that this wondering, as EVERYTHING categorized “spiritual wrestling” in my little ol’ blog, is definitely a work in progress!)
“Macro-will” and “Micro-will”: I believe in what might be called a “macro-will” of God which is persistent throughout the ages and unchanging. (to reassure readers I’m not totally arbitrary and random when it comes to a big-picture Master Plan!!!) However, I believe it (and the Planner who planned it!) leaves a great deal of wiggle-room, and indeed, the capacity in him for (dare I say it?) delighted or disappointed surprise. Even surprise at the acts of evil in those he created for good and union with himself. I believe this macro-will will “win” in the end and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ or otherwise thwart God’s will. This is my belief, and indeed, my Christian hope. God will step in with bigger and smaller calls, nudges, and miracles to ensure that!!
We in our puny and temporal existences perceive/hear these calls and nudges. And so does everyone else around us, answering more or less faithfully, with more or less purity of heart, and readiness or willingness or awareness to act on these calls and nudges. All these intersections and collisions of constantly unfolding free will’s make God’s micro-will for our lives a constantly shifting target. It is very situational, but always grounded in the carrying out of God’s macro-will. We (I believe!) have the power to answer God’s call and put a smile on his face. Failing to answer the call, either knowingly resisting or out of innocent ignorance may or may not disappoint, as many factors come into play. But sure, as just one possible example, I believe God was disappointed when Judas betrayed Christ. How couldn’t he be???
These small exchanges of call and answer make up what I believe is God’s “micro-will(s)” for individuals. And I believe the micro-will can be life-alteringly, transformatively strong, but it is subject to change, as God is “surprised” and adjusts. It is a constantly moving target, in greater and lesser ways.
Ordained Ministry Discernment, a Micro-Will Category? Where am I going with all this? It is my belief that we in discernment circles strain and struggle so long and hard over something that falls firmly in the category of God’s micro-will. Do we put too much emphasis on discerning that will in the process? Definitely not! Faithfully discerning, to the best of our abilities, is very important. Does it lead individuals in the process to allow themselves to needlessly get bent out of shape? Perhaps. Maybe. But I do wish to stress here, firmly and strenuously, that any bending out of shape that has happened on my part has been hoisted on by my own inner demons, not by anyone else around me in what I consider to be a very healthy discernment process in my diocese! The thing I’m pondering, though, is that until or unless someone makes vows to the church it is merely a potentiality, however strong and single-minded it may feel to the individual, not an inseparable part of the individual’s macro-vocation. It is a detail (albeit in a permanent, radically lifechanging detail!) in the micro-call working out of just one possible expression of one’s bigger purpose picture. This bigger picture is the macro-vocation of one’s life, and it, too, has (I think) plenty of wiggle room. It is in the macro-vocation, not the micro-call, where the “thing you can’t not do” lies, in my opinion. And the fact that I hold that opinion may well speak volumes that I have misinterpreted my own call big-time. Who knows. But plodding along in my wondering aloud, it seems to me that the thing you can’t not do, the macro-vocation, is to respond faithfully as one can to the call God puts on one’s life, as best one grasps it. I realize I didn’t give examples of how such a strong initial call could be valid at time A, and then become a moving target and not “the thing” at time B. But I have a few examples in my mind. I’m sure you can imagine a few of your own??? At any rate, I’ve been prattling on quite long enough for this post.
God’s in it all the Time!!! Reading back over my words could suggest that such a person is making it “all about them,” and rather unattractively self-absorbed, in just the area where you would hope fervently for the opposite. I would simply say that the twists and turns of such a wondering process, and “the best we can do” process of striving to be a faithful disciple and discerner of God’s will can be more complicated than they appear on the surface. I return to my apology in part 1, “…regardless of how well I succeed in articulating that in tonight’s and the planned follow-up posts that’s what I REALLY mean to say. It is simply this, loud and at the top of my lungs: God’s in it all the time.”
Indeed he is. I thank God for that constant presence. Thank you, God.
Peace all! – Karla
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
Lord, I ask that this prayer be the true prayer of my heart as I continue to pray and listen to you. And if you see what in my blindness I cannot see, and that my heart is resisting you in being my vision and lord, I ask you to work on my heart to make it so. Amen.