Earlier today, I was talking with a good friend about the spiritual life. The conversation centered on the topic of doing God’s will.
As our conversation rolled along, I thought about Israel’s disobedience. Most people familiar with the Old Testament will know that the ancient Israelites strayed from God countless times. During the Exodus from Egypt, they complained to Moses and when they didn’t get what they wanted, they started to worship a Golden Calf. Moses talked to God about the problem and the Israelites received the Old Law. Of course, that’s not the end of the story. Far from it.
When the Judges were around and kept warning the Israelites that Divine Justice would not sit back and be stilled, they continued to sin and do what they had always done. The prophets came and went warning the people about impending doom; life continued as it always had. People were born, lived, and died. They ate, drank, and made merry, but they didn’t know God. At least, they didn’t understand Him and that He was the ruler of their nation not the number of kings that came after Saul like Rehoboam and Jeroboam.
Why is it, I thought to myself today, that some people continue down a road that leads to self-destruction and don’t listen to sound reason? Why is it that so many of us choose deliberately to disobey God rather than obey Him?
The easy answer is that obedience is not appealing. After all, why give up everything that you have now and reform your life for a supreme being that could just as well be living on Mars? What’s the point in that? Why not just continue going down the road and don’t giving a flip?
The main problem with that kind of reasoning is that God is real and He does exist. Whether we see it or not, He shapes every day of our lives. Each day that we live on this earth, He presents with choices. Some of these are rather small and insignificant, while others are larger than life. Yet each of these choices is a chance for us to show one of two things: obedience or disobedience, love or lack of love.
In my own life, I have often struggled with reciting the Divine Office every day. I know that I’ve sung its praises countless times on this blog in the past, but the truth is that it can be very difficult to motivate myself to pray in the middle of the day or just after rolling out of bed in the morning. However, I solider on. Not because I really want to, but because God expects it of me. Indeed, my recitation of the Divine Office is a sacrifice that I render to Him every single day both for myself and the rest of the Church. With this realization in mind, I cannot imagine giving up on the Office. After all, who will be there to pray for me if I don’t pray for the Church?
Another choice that came up recently was rather different. Last Wednesday, I went up to the old seminary library to peruse the volumes. Ever since I started going up there, there was always a particular book that I was longing for. I knew that it was there, but I could never find it.
So there I was on the third floor of the library going through cardboard box after cardboard box. I finally found that book, a Dominican breviary, in immaculate condition at the bottom of one of these boxes. Instantly, my jaw dropped to the floor and the biggest smile made itself felt. God was good, I thought, and I took the breviary down to the show the librarian who is a personal friend.
Well, I didn’t take the breviary home that day. I was told that books from the third floor were forbidden for me to take unless my friend got permission from the parish priest. So the breviary was put on her desk with a sticky. I was disappointed and crestfallen. I got really quiet and wanted to throw a tantrum, but then something happened that amazed me.
Almost reflexively, I kept saying to myself over and over, “If it’s God’s will to give you that breviary, you will have it.” The thought occurred over and over. I even said it out loud. Indeed, I realized that God would get me that prayer book somehw, but not immediately. It would take time, of course, and the only thing that I would have to do was wait
The wait still isn’t over and I’m still praying, but the story goes to illustrate an important truth. When my friend told me that I couldn’t have the breviary, I could have done one of two things. I could have thrown a tantrum about it or I could have resigned myself. I also could have carried the breviary out in my briefcase. But I chose to resign myself because I knew that I wasn’t in charge, God was.
The thing is that obeying God is easier than just disobeying Him. God’s laws are not meant to be a stumbling block for us or to bind us down. Rather, they are there as a safeguard for us. Few people relaize that this is so and even fewer realize that Our Lord meant that His burden was easy and His yoke was light. Indeed, it is for those that are willing to follow Him and Him whatever He asks in loving obedience and charity.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!