By Father Peter Farrington
We are Orthodox Christians, and generally we believe that we should, and would want, to make these choices with God and for God. Making Life Choices With God | Fr. Peter Farrington.
If I had lived centuries ago everything would have been much simpler. My own ancestors were carpenters and joiners in some of the small villages in England, and had I lived at that time I would have had almost no choices to complicate the direction of life. I would have attended a village school and learned to read and write. But I would have expected to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a carpenter and joiner like him. This is exactly what happened over many generations in my family.
Living in the 21st century, it seems that we are overwhelmed with significant and important choices which set the tone and direction of everything else that we do. If we make a mistake it could be disastrous. There are so many choices that making any choice causes us so much stress and anxiety. We must choose, but how to make the right choice?
We are Orthodox Christians, and generally we believe that we should, and would want, to make these choices with God and for God. But practically speaking it often seems as though God is distant from us when we are thinking about what College or University to attend, which course to apply for, and which career to invest our time and energy into pursuing.
Sometimes it seems that we are left to our own devices, and that God intervenes only when things go wrong, and when our hopes and dreams are dashed, and we struggle to say, your will be done! Making Life Choices With God | Fr. Peter Farrington.
How do I know what university to apply for? It is hard enough to make the choice myself without worrying about how to include God. How do I know what course to apply for in God’s will? What does that mean? When it comes to choosing a career, how does God get involved? Sometimes it seems that we are left to our own devices, and that God intervenes only when things go wrong, and when our hopes and dreams are dashed, and we struggle to say, your will be done! But this is not the only way of seeking to do the will of God in these important and significant choices and in these life changing moments.
Indeed, to expect God only to reveal his will by preventing things happening, especially things we had looked forward to, is completely the wrong way of thinking about our life with God.
These are some practical ideas for making life choices with God, in a way that makes room for God to guide and inform our decisions.
- We should always begin our decision making with prayer. We need to ask God to be involved in what we are having to think about, and we have to try to give the whole process over to God with confidence. This doesn’t mean abandoning all of our own thoughts and ideas and aspirations. But it does mean giving these to God, believing that he really does know best and wants the best for us. The best is often already aligned with the abilities and interests God has created in us.
- We should think about the options in front of us, and seriously reflect on how these might affect our life with God. If we have a choice of universities or job offers, then we need to find out whether there is a supportive Orthodox Church in each of the places where we might have to travel and live. If we are not able to preserve an active and engaging relationship with God in participating in a local congregation then we need to realistically recognise that however good the offer from other perspectives, it might not be best for us in the long term if we fall away from life with God in the Church.
- We should make our choices provisionally, and without committing to anything all at once. So if we are thinking about university then we might choose some which have the best courses and the best reputation, others which have the best environment for us in a wider sense, and we should leave space for God to present something unexpected. We should neither push hard on one particular door, nor do nothing at all. But when he have a range of sensible choices in front of us, taking into account our spiritual life as a priority, then we should lay these before God. We can do this for real, putting letters and university prospectus on the floor and having a piece of paper with a question mark, so that God can surprise us, as well as lead us towards something we have already thought about.
- Then we need to wait. If we are asking God to help us then we need to let him speak to us and guide us. Wait as long as possible, not rushing into any hasty decisions. How will God help us? If we pray very often about this choice, offering our life to God in whatever choice is best, then he will respond. If we just pray, asking God to bless what we have already chosen without him then we are not actually asking God to be involved at all. But if we read the Bible each day, if we listen to the advice of spiritual people we trust, if we see what happens, what emails we receive, what messages seem to indicate that things are happening, then we can see God at work. But we need to wait and give God time to guide us.
- And then, before we commit, we offer the one choice that seems to make sense, that seems to support our spiritual life, that seems to have become an open door for us without our effort, and we pray again. We don’t want to make a mistake at the end. And so we pray, and we wait just a little bit more, asking God to help us see if we are making a mistake.
- Then we make a choice. But not as if God no longer mattered, rather, as if this is the next step in a life-long journey with God, in which we continue to listen and respond to God guiding us and leading us.
This takes a bit of time. It requires us to wait, to hesitate, to give space to God to surprise us with a possibility we had not considered. But we have more hope of making the right decision, and even more importantly, making it in the right way, in a spiritual way, with God instead of just for God, as if he was someone far away. And the more we make important choices with God in this way, with prayer and the offering of ourselves at every step, the easier it becomes to hear the voice of God and to follow where he leads.
By: Father Peter Farrington | A priest of St Mary and Saint Cyril Coptic Orthodox Church in Liverpool. United Kingdom ~ Diocese of the Midlands.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-12-07 from Liverpool, England
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