Life isn’t overwhelming when you simply understand how to serve in this minute.
–Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
Discerning God’s will is part of the joy and adventure of life. What does God want of me, for me? How do we know?
These are big questions, so big they can feel overwhelming. What if I get it wrong? I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. How can I know what God wants me to do with the rest of my life?
I’m confident Joe and I are following God’s calling in becoming appointed missionaries for the Episcopal Church. While this call led us away from ministries and people we love, it’s led us toward the opportunity to serve God and the Church in new ways that will make use of our gifts and skills to meet a genuine need. God will also equip us with new skills and experiences that we will carry into the next opportunity to serve.
Thinking about our experiences, skills, what brings us joy, what we can do, has all been part of our discernment. But a large part of our discernment has focussed on what does God want of us now? Now–at this time in our lives. Not twenty years ago, not ten years from now, maybe not even when we feel ready or fully prepared. Now.
I’m more and more convinced that the question of what does God want now also helps with discernment of the short-term.
I may not know what the long-term plan is. I may not know what the future will bring (actually, I’m positive I don’t know). If I think I have to have the future all planned out, I may find myself stressed about getting it right, petrified from taking even one step forward in case I’m heading the wrong direction.
Instead, try just asking what’s the way to serve now. Today. In this moment. In the next five minutes. This week.
I think of all the times Joe and I have gone hiking, and because we are drawn to cold, foggy places for some reason that isn’t clear to me but is very true, we often end up in the middle of a cloud. The best approach in the middle of a cloud isn’t to worry about what direction I should go half a mile from now. The best thing is to take one step in the direction I know I should go. Just one. Now.
Sometimes the cloud is so thick we risk losing our bearings and it’s safer to wait it out while the weather passes. Even in that moment there are things we can do: stay warm, sit tight, tell each other jokes and stories, share the thermos of hot tea we brought along. There’s always a way to serve, and find joy, now.