by Mary Jane Olores
What is God’s will for my life?
This is the common question that we often reflect upon, and this also is the same question I tried to answer during the Singles for Christ Metro Manila Conference (MMC) this weekend.
MMC is entitled “BLESSED”, with the anchor verse taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
The verse speaks about the will of God, every session at the Conference focused deeply on 3 directives of this passage, God wants us to be: 1. JOYFUL always 2. PRAY at all times and 3. GIVE THANKS in all circumstances. While meditating on this will of the Father, I was struck by the modifiers used by St. Paul – joyful ALWAYS, pray AT ALL TIMES and give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. These modifiers make His will seem to be difficult to attain, St. Paul addresses our mindsets and not our feelings. As Kuya Rob Escano said; Joy, Prayer and Gratitude are interconnected virtues and these are actions NOT feelings.
For us to understand these more deeply, one must put less emphasis “What God wants me to do?” but more on “What God wants me to be?” Let’s go through it one by one:
BE JOYFUL ALWAYS.
Life can bring as so many reasons to be unhappy right? Circumstances allow us to confront sadness, uncertainties and grief. How can we be Joyful ALWAYS? The Session 2 of MMC is all about this, joy was presented as not a mere fleeting feeling. Joy is deeper than happiness and to find it, we must trace our roots. Joy is unrelated to the circumstances of life and anchored to our relationship with God. Simply put, without this relationship with God – which is initiated by Jesus Christ – we cannot know this kind of joy. Being joyful is not simply putting a happy face, we need not to focus on the circumstances of life and create our own joy. I realized that we must not pattern our happiness on the things that are temporary like: wealth, good job, relationships, achievements and personal satisfaction. We need to focus on something that is constant – God’s love and His promises. A long and loving look at the real is necessary.
PRAY AT ALL TIMES
Father Arman on the Session 3 stated that, a strong prayer life embraces one’s life because it is in the reality that we encounter God. It never happens without a personal struggle of sin and its masks of pride. Through prayer we express ourselves freely in conformity with God and leave the comforts of sin by finding security in God. What does “pray without ceasing” mean? Does St. Paul want us to pray all day long? This session reminded me of the privilege God gave us – the opportunity to pray and communicate with Him. I realized that when St. Paul commanded us to Pray at all times, he is encouraging us to be in constant communication with God, not just in words but also in actions and in silence. God loves us as His beloved child but treat as like an adult child, thus it is necessary for us to seek His will as our Father. Prayer is the time for us to align our hearts and minds to His.
GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
LOVE – this is the very reason why we must be grateful in all circumstances. The affirmation of God’s great love for us was shared by Father Ian on Session 4. He expressed his gratefulness by sharing all the good things the Lord has done for him and therefore led us to be grateful as we remember our own blessings. God is an eternal exchange of love, the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is love itself - the Father is the Lover, the Holy Spirit is Love and the Son is called the beloved. Isn’t it amazing? We are sharing the image and likeness of God and our heart meant to be like HIS. Our grateful disposition is our response to this love. Like joy, our gratefulness is anchored in our relationship with Christ rather than the circumstances of life. No amount of failure or disappointment will take away the favor that God has for us. With this truth, why should not be grateful?
I myself also struggled on these 3 directives, there are so many blessings that I failed to appreciate in the past and even experienced dryness in my prayer life. The MMC opened my heart into a new perspective, the Session “BLESSED” allowed me to go back and remember my first blessings, while the Session “BLESSED TO BLESS” reminded me of the special purpose why I am created. I am now inspired to bless others because I am blessed. I am also reminded of my anointing and privilege to serve the Lord.
This community (CFC) is indeed a great blessing to me and to my family. I am forever grateful that He called to me serve in YFC when I was still young and He continues to bless me now in SFC. I can no longer imagine my life outside this community. I am SFC and I believe that I am called to Love Christ, Live Christ and Share Christ to others.
I AM BORN TO BLESS. I LIVE TO SERVE. I AM ANOINTED TO SACRIFICE.
This is what the Lord wants me to be and I will be joyful in doing His will for His instructions are in my heart – Psalm 40:8