When my second-grade religion teacher, taught us about the “will of God,” I figured following his will was like an arm-wrestling contest. God wanted me to do one thing, but I wanted to do another.
So, in my imagination, when faced with competing options, the Creator and I would sit face-to-face, rest our elbows on the table, grasp each other’s hands, and try to force the other’s arm down to see who wins. Grrr! Grrr! We’d grit our teeth and grumble at each other.
As an adult, I often struggled with following his will. Like the time I went grocery shopping, and after I got to my car realized the store clerk had given me too much change. I figured God wanted me to go back and return the extra money. But I wanted to keep it.
So, I got into another cosmic wrestling match with the Creator. Mentally, I arm-twisted back and forth deciding what to do.
It’s not my fault she gave me too much money. I deserve to keep it, I argued.
But honesty is the best policy. The goody-two-shoes in me shook his finger, reminding me what God wanted me to do.
Eventually, the mental match was too much. God won. The store clerk was glad—otherwise, the register shortfall would’ve come out of her pocket.
These battles fighting God’s will didn’t work out so good for me. I didn’t like getting beat up by life when I won the match and made bad choices.
Popping the Magic Question
Several years ago, a wise mentor introduced me to a book by Richard Hauser, S.J.: Moving in the Spirit. In it, Hauser says that God is like a Divine Parent who only wants us to be happy. God always invites us toward our highest good. The Creator sees the full picture of our lives from beginning to end. He wants us to do what’s most life-giving for ourselves and others. He wants us to experience joy and inner peace.
Our job is to awaken to God’s loving movement in our lives and respond by following it as best as we can.
My mentor suggested I reframe how I look at God’s will. She said that instead of arm-wrestling with the Creator, I ask myself this simple question:
“What would be most life-giving for myself and others?”
This question, my mentor said, points us in the same direction as God. It allows us to discern his will by determining what option would be the wisest, most loving one.
And we know God’s will when we experience one or more fruits of the Spirit:
I call my mentor’s suggestion “Popping the Magic Question.” It’s magic because it helps me see things from God’s perspective. And the grudge match between me and God has ended.
Instead of a competitor, I see God as a wise friend. He co-creates with, in, and through me. He wants what’s best for me. And when I take time to ask the Divine Spirit what would be life-giving for me and others, I make better choices and experience deeper happiness, even joy.
Making It Real
The other day, a friend pointed out that I sometimes act as if I have all the answers. Instead of defending myself, I paused, took a few deep breaths, and silently asked the Magic Question: What would be most life-giving for me and my friend right now?
I surprised myself when I let go of my anger and replied, “You’re right. Sometimes I do put on my superman cape. I need to watch that. Thanks for reminding me to take the cape off.”
We chuckled, and I grew.
A Spiritual Practice
Consider popping the Magic Question (What would be most life-giving for me and others right now?) when you’re faced with any decision—be it a simple response to another person or a major life choice.
When we stop arm-wrestling with God and instead focus on how the Creator invites us to grow, we create the life God desires for us. Happy. Healthy. Whole.
—brian j plachta
PS: To dive deeper, check out this 5-minute guided mediation: Chattin’ with the Creator.
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