So if you don’t already think I’m nuts for homeschooling my daughter this year, you might when I tell you why.
You see, I was resisting the idea a lot. It was a stupid, harebrained scheme. Who homeschools? How would I even begin to explain this to people? How was I going to cope with it all? Would the school be upset with me? But God kept poking me.
What is a God poke? Well, it’s not like I hear the voice of God and he tells me to do things in a deep, rich baritone, or there’s this big thunderbolt and I fall off the horse I’m riding and the statue of Mary gets all weepy and the fish poke their heads out of the water to listen to me preach and it starts raining flowers. It’s kind of like this persistent gut feeling every time I pray. And good people seem to turn up in my path with the right advice at the right time. I know that I can tell God to back off with these crazy suggestions and he would. But I don’t want to tell him to back off, not right away. I’m curious and a little excited. I know that in the past when I’ve gone along with God in his ridiculous suggestions, it’s turned out to be the best thing I could have done.
This all might sound mental, but it’s not really. It’s not like some compulsion – like I have to do something right now or something bad will happen. And it’s not like I feel compelled by creepy voices in my head. Nothing bad will happen if I don’t listen to God and his quiet suggestions (except I might miss out on an adventure exactly suited to my personality and stage of life. I might miss an opportunity to grow and reach my true potential). And I don’t feel compelled (or hear voices, for that matter) – like I said before, I feel really conflicted. I keep telling God his ideas are mental and he keeps bugging me. I need to really trust God, there’s always that leap of faith required, I guess.
I should probably point out here that I don’t think I’m some child of destiny, that God has a plan for me and me alone. Everyone gets poked by God at some time or another. Some of us ignore it, some of us don’t call it ‘God’, but ‘intuition’ or ‘conscience’ or some other name that best fits our chosen religion.
I can hear as I write this what my atheist friends would say to all this. What about all those awful people who commit atrocities and say they were doing God’s will? Surely it’s dangerous to blindly follow an idea like this? It’s true. Not all ‘gut feelings’ come from God. I don’t like to give him too much attention, but there is an evil mischief-maker out there who likes to trip us up. That’s why it’s important that we don’t follow our concept of God’s will blindly. Here’s a helpful test set out in the beautiful form of an ordered list:
- What is my motivation for taking this path? Is ego and vanity a big factor? If the answer is yes, it’s probably not God. If the answer is no, proceed to question 2
- What are the fruits of this ministry? Of course, there will be obstacles, but are good things happening because of it? If you have declared war on another nation and are claiming it’s God’s will, you might have some trouble finding good fruits.
- Did I take this on because I really feel it’s where God has called me to be, or am I loading up with more commitments for ‘extra credit’, so that I might impress God?
- Do I feel a healthy measure of doubt about this? I would worry if not.
Of course, I always try to make God fit into a box, but God does not conform to ordered lists, and the best way to discern his will in a tricky situation is to pray, pray, pray. Read the scripture and pray, Sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and pray. Peg out the washing and pray. Pray formally, with the rosary or a novena. Pray informally, in silence or amidst the noise and mess. Ask others to pray for you. Ask Mary to pray for you (she said yes to God’s harebrained scheme too, remember?). Just pray. Pray lots.
Then maybe it might be time to poke back.