What Would God Have Me Do?
“Each day, ask God what God wants us to do today; then ask God to help.” (From Melody Beattie’s Daily Meditation for December 12 in The Language of Letting Go.)
The Language of Letting Go has long been my go-to meditation book. It came out in 1990 and I’ve been reading it every day ever since. But this entry from last week brought me up short. Those little aha moments are pretty powerful. They become times when we suddenly see things more accurately. When I read the sentence above, it hit me that, while I have a very consistent prayer and reflection discipline, I’m not sure I have ever actually started a day by asking God what God wanted me to do that day.
My life is calendar-driven. Every day I get up early, read the lessons appointed for the day, pour over trusted daily devotional readings, write in a journal, and take some time to sit quietly in God’s presence. I think a little about how things went the day before. I think a lot about what I have to do today. That practice has always provided some peace in my life. I’ve often thought that I really wouldn’t have made it this long in my job or personal life were it not for such a time of reflection. I’m sort of a production based person and one reason I need quiet time in the morning is to recover from yesterday’s production and gear up for today’s. In those quiet times I see things I didn’t see before, I find clarity where I was confused, I find patience and perspective, I find compassion for others.
But I never ask what God wants me to do in the day ahead. I already know what I am to do: my calendar has it all there for me. Things don’t sneak up on me. I live by the calendar. I know what my week ahead looks like. I spend a lot of time looking ahead at what is coming up. It excites me to sit down and make plans for things way down the road. The calendar is an integral part of my daily prayer and reflection discipline. Each day I look at what I need to do and then go out and do the best I can.
For a week now, I’ve been forcing myself to ask that question: “What would God have me do today?” So far it hasn’t led me to alter my calendar radically. I haven’t heard God tell me to cancel appointments or pretend events aren’t going to happen. But I have sensed some things about how God might have me go through scheduled events differently. This morning I heard this: “write your weekly piece with encouragement; listen to others at the noonday bible study; be grateful and affirming at the Vestry meeting; be present and available with Mary Ward when you come home.”
The second part of the question – asking God to help – is proving revolutionary as well. While I’ve generally found God present with me in my early morning times, I tend to head off and tackle the world on my own and then report back in the next morning. Asking God to help me with what I believe God wants me to do in the day has helped me be more aware of God’s presence as I live out the day. It’s not just me against the world.
I imagine, if I continue this brand new practice, I might find myself reconsidering what I enter on my calendar. So far the practice is beginning to affect how I do things. Eventually it may change what I actually do. And next year, when my calendar disappears, I wonder what God may lead me to consider. I’m sensing God will be asking me to be kinder and more attentive to little joys. I’ll need lots of help with that because I tend to press a little too hard and am not particularly appreciative by nature.
What would God have you do today? If you have a full calendar or an empty one, I think it’s a hard question to consider. We don’t really think of God as one who has specific hopes or desires for us. We tend to go about our duties and then look over our shoulder at God as if to say, “Am I doing okay?”
Be encouraged to picture God as one who loves you, as one who awaits you in the day ahead, and one who will guide and direct you as you deal with your life. God comes to live among us in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It’s hard for us to get our minds around it but God is already here among us. God values the here and now. I don’t picture God as someone who long ago laid out a plan for every specific action we take. I don’t think that everything we do is what God has willed or dictated. But I do think God has hopes and desires for us which grow with us. And I think we are capable of discovering what God might want for us, if we can become less self-centered and more God-centered.
Wherever we are on our spiritual path, there is always the next step to take. Ask God what God might want that next step to be.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.