The middle 20th century mystic and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, once prayed:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not actually mean that I am doing so.I believe this prayer resonates with us more then we admit. It is said to me often that events and actions must be God’s will, but in our heart of hearts are we really sure…100%, beyond question, absolutely sure? Indeed, how can we be sure? When we claim that we are sure of the will of God then we claim to know the mind of the ultimate being of the universe. Quite frankly, to suggest that we mere mortals—a species that can barely survive its own violence against itself—might know the mind of God is more than a bit presumptuous.
But if we can never be sure to an absolute about the will God, how are we to know whether we are following God’s will even if that is our heart’s true desire? Merton goes on to pray:
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire for all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.More and more I believe the purpose of a human is to hope more than to know. We are to hope that we are doing things solely for the glory of God. We are to hope that our world may be blessed by God through our actions. We are to hope that grace abounds and we may revel in it. And when the darkest night descends upon us—the shadow of death as the scriptures call it—we can live in the hope of the coming dawn because by the cross we know that God is with us. I do not know what roads we will travel nor what lies up around the bend, but I hope to please God on the journey, and I hope you desire to do so too.