Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
We all want to know the will of God. Some people, like me, spend their lives chasing it. We wonder what His plans are for us, who we will marry and what He will have us to do. This opens up our souls to deeper questions such as, What is my purpose, and why was I created?
The busyness of our lives can and does interfere with the silence of God. We want to know what God’s plans are for us, yet we are unwilling to stop and listen. His plan is simple really and has already been foretold hundreds of times both in the Old and New Testament.
Here is a little secret, God’s will is the sacrifice of yourself
In the last few weeks, I have found myself meditating on sacrifice. What that means and how God has called me to live that out at this very moment. During Lent, God is constantly calling us to reassess our lives and our priorities. Is it comfortable? Is it complacent? Is it superficial?
Then chances are it’s not from God
As a Jewish girl, sacrifice was always something that I thought about. It started early in life for me when I was a teenager, pondering the meaning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I wondered why we only fasted on one day for our sins, but the rest of the year was filled with days when sacrifice was not mentioned or lived. I could not imagine that Yom Kippur was like a check box for God, for His people to act however they wished for 364 days but who came to shul for one day, said they were sorry, and then went right back to the life that they were living, forgetting God and the temple. The other question I pondered was why people would say to “have an easy fast.” Why should a fast for God be easy? The whole point of fasting for Yom Kippur was to ask forgiveness from God and forgiveness from our family and friends. We should feel pain for our sins and sorrow, I thought, not countdown to our next meal.
This is the same idea for Lent. We can make it such a religious, meaningless thing. You don’t eat meat on Fridays? Good for you. Maybe you checked off your box too. You gave up a certain food and it’s hard? Well it’s supposed to be. But Jesus does not say that these things will be easy. This is the point of sacrifice. The giving up of ourselves for the glory of God. This is truly God’s will for us.
In a society that places priority and praise for people who are self-indulgent, self-centered and self righteous, the Christian faith provides a striking conundrum- God’s omnipotence over my own.
The culture says that we are our own Master. Christianity says we are slaves to our divine Master.
In my journey towards Christ, in finding the truth and God’s will, God teaches me time and time again that my life’s purpose, His will, is not and never will be about me. The sacrifice He requires is not a concrete, definable sacrifice but rather one that requires me to seek Him in everything, every circumstance and down every road. If what I am doing does not involve some sort of sacrifice, I have to re-evaluate that and look at whether it comes from ego.
Am I doing this for God or am I doing this for myself and my own recognition?
Mary, a young Jewish girl, was raised in the temple and prepared her whole life for what God’s plan was to be. Like many Jewish girls of that time, her role was to become a wife and a mother and to take care of her family. But in the middle of her completely ordinary life, God did something extraordinary. He asked her to be the mother of God.
At 15, unwed and pregnant, Mary knew that she would be ostracized and alone. There is no doubt that Mary, when in prayer in the temple, would have never believed that this was God’s will for her life. I am sure she imagined a beautiful, ordinary life like so many other young Jewish girls.
But God’s plans for our life when we follow Him are not ordinary, they are extraordinary
Like Mary, I never imagined that God’s will for my life as a devout Jew would entail my conversion to Christianity. I prayed all my life to know God’s will for me and I got it. My moment came at the front of a church, praying and saying Yes to God. Like Mary, I questioned, How can this be? And like Mary, the Holy Spirit came upon me and the power of the Most High overshadowed me.
This was my moment. This was my yes to God
I have said my yes now since 2013 over and over, both in big and small things. And here, now during Lent, my question to God is no different, Lord what are you asking me to sacrifice? Because in asking God what He wants me to sacrifice is asking Him for His own will to be manifested in me. It forces me to be other-centered, not self-centered. And we are called to do that as Catholics, to live sacrificially, to love sacrificially. And right now, God is calling us to get outside of self and to reach out in this dying world.
This morning, ask yourself these questions:
Am I doing what God has called me to do or am I so far from God that I have no idea?
Do the things I do glorify God or do I do them to glorify myself?
During this pandemic, have I spent time giving of myself, or am I busy filling up time with things that do not bear fruit?
Like Mary, let us really embrace God’s call of sacrificial love.
It is, after all, God’s will for us.