Horizons Fellow Carolyn Harris on God's Path

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.   – Thomas Merton photo17-300x276

Ever since I heard this beautiful and humbling prayer at Vintage one Friday during the spring of my second year, my perspective on finding God’s will for my life changed.  I have realized there is not just one “right path” for our lives and if we miss it, oh well! Too bad!  However, at the time, I did not have much “soul searching” to do.  I was solidifying great relationships at UVA, settling into my classes and extracurriculars, and had just been accepted into the Commerce School.  From my perspective, I had nailed down my future and “figured it out”.  I was feeling great.

Then came 4th year.  How quickly I forgot the lesson that God had taught me just a year and a half ago.  I had real decisions I had to make about the ever-looming life after college. Where should I work?  How can I love God in a job where I would mainly be sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen all day? How do I show the love of Jesus, directly or indirectly, to my co-workers?  Should I turn down a job that I know would have bad hours? How picky should I be about the job I take?  In order to tackle these questions, I quickly fell back into the mindset of attempting to seek out “the one right path” God had for my life.

However, thanks to many more Vintage lunches, encouragement from fellow 4th years, and conversations with my Theological Horizon’s mentor, I was slowly reminded that God did not task us with the job of uncovering the mysterious plan He has for our lives.  In the questions above, my thinking was “me” oriented (see how many times I mentioned “I” in the paragraph above) instead of God oriented, which can be confusing, fruitless, and exhausting.  In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard reminds us that God’s will is being done despite what we do.  By taking myself out of the picture, I was reminded that God just wants us to love him with all of our heart, soul and mind.

As Thomas Merton said, sometimes we don’t know where we are going or if we are even following God’s will, but this is okay!  All of the little questions seem to fall away as we desire to know God, keep his commandments, and slowly orient ourselves in right relationship with Him.  As I move through life, I hope to be able to make decisions to the best of my ability but at the end of the day still be able to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

Carolyn Harris, Comm 2014