When I look back at my journey over the last three or so years, there are times when I think I have made so much progress and then there are days, like yesterday, when I realize I still have a long way to go. I will get into what happened yesterday a little later.
One of the bigger questions I have had in my journey has always been “What is God’s will for me?” How do we know what God wants us to do? I came across a writing from Peter Kreeft, someone way smarter than I can ever hope to be on theology and God and stuff. In this article on “Discernment” he says there are two points that are relevant to the question of how we can discern God’s will:
First, they tell us that God not only knows and loves us in general but that he cares about every detail of our lives, and we are to seek to walk in his will in all things, big and little. Second, they tell us that he has given us free will and reason because he wants us to use it to make decisions.
He then goes on to talk about how one can best discern God’s will. The link is above so if you want to read the article you may, just come back when you are done. Back? Okay. Basically it comes down to learning as much as you can about the teachings of God, then letting what you have learned guide you in all your actions and decisions. If you believe it is right in God’s eyes, then it is the right thing to do.
What is one of the first things God teaches us? “To love our neighbors as ourselves.” Jesus also tells us:
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25: 40 – 46
This means whenever we have a chance we should take the time to help others, to do the right thing. We never know if that person who needs help is Jesus.
Which leads me to yesterday and a wrong choice I made. While working yesterday, I was driving on a two lane highway out in the northern regions of Vermont, and to my left I saw a motorcycle lying on its side with the rider sitting in the grass next to it. I could see the rider was moving, and there were two bicyclists in front of me who stopped to help. I kept driving, in a hurry to finish my work so I could get home. As soon as I drove past, I realized I made the wrong decision, I should have stopped. Maybe I could have done something, maybe not, maybe the person was hurt, maybe not, I don’t know, nor will I ever now.
For the rest of the day every time I tried to justify why I didn’t stop I realized there was nothing more important than doing what is right in God’s eyes. What was the right thing to do? Stopping and helping.
As I thought about it, I realized a few things. For one thing, old habits are hard to break. We become so accustomed to “minding our own business”, especially if we live or work in the city, that we don’t “see” the problem, or we let someone else deal with it. Helping others isn’t always the first thing on our minds. We also live in a world where we are taught to fear everyone and everything, especially strangers. Media today is full of scary stories, how we aren’t safe from… well anything. This is where the whole concept of trusting in God comes into play.
The right thing to do would have been to stop. That was what God wanted me to do, that was my chance of the day to “be like Christ”, a kind of test, although God doesn’t test us. I failed.
As Jesus teaches us in the “Parable of the Good Samaritan”: Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Here are some links to a few of Peter Kreeft’s books. If you purchase them using these links (or anything else using these links as a gateway to Amazon), you will be supporting the Wayward Catholic.