At first glance, the beginning of this year has been one of false-starts. Just look at our weather in the northeast--bounding from balmy to blizzard, neither people nor plants can tell which end is up. Perhaps you have had the challenge of seemingly false-starts in your personal or professional life, as well. We all have hopes and dreams for our lives. I know that I have heard myself saying, “If only I can get to ____, everything will be great!” “If only” sometimes comes to pass, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, we often realize that it wasn’t the panacea we had hoped for. When it doesn’t, the disappointment and haunting “what if’s” can be a real drain on the soul. When this happens, it is a sign that we are living too much unto our own wills, and not discerning that of God. Certainly, free will and the creative drive in all of us are gifts from God, but like all his other gifts, it is in returning them to Him that we find our true joy.
“God has a plan for you.” Truer and more frustrating words have rarely been spoken. We all want the best for the world, our church, our families, and ourselves. And though we have agency, or the ability to act and effect change, action without God’s direction is like a ship without a pilot.
Lent is the time of year when we pay special attention to our mortality, sinfulness, and need for God’s grace in our lives. Consider Jesus in the garden: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Even our Lord struggled with accepting God’s will and plan for him, but because he did, we not only have Lent, but also Easter. Let us use the remaining weeks of Lent and Holy Week to pray in the garden of Gethsemane that is in each of our hearts. Look back at the year that has passed and find those places where God’s will was done in your life. Look ahead as well and have faith. Engage with God through prayer, reading of holy scripture, and the partaking of the sacraments of His Church. Ask and work for the wisdom and grace to open your heart and mind to His will. And finally, remember the words of St. Paul, “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20)