Although to outsiders some people may seem to be having life very easy, no human being is without difficulties and obstacles. And so too in the spiritual life. Everyone in the spiritual life faces difficulties and obstacles and, very often, confusion and discouragement. Even saints are not free of difficulties, but is there something, some characteristic of the lives of saints that can help us in overcoming our difficulties and obstacles?
What characteristic do the saints seem to have in common? Certainly it is not physical characteristics, nor gender, nor the way they have approached God. Indeed, there are no two saints exactly the same. And yet, in their presence, we feel that they are all, in some way, an expression of God; there is no difference between their will and God’s will. They are totally surrendered to the point where God is able to express Himself through them in an unimpeded way.
Does He express Himself the same through each saint? Of course not. God’s purpose in creation, according to the scriptures, is to manifest and express Himself in the greatest possible variety of ways. Each flower is different, each bird is different. We are all different expressions of God. The question for us as human beings is, are we a conscious expression of God? Are we consciously trying to express His will, or do we want to express our will? Do we want God to be in charge of our lives, or do we want to be in control?
Perhaps this question is the nub of the spiritual life. Perhaps all our spiritual practices lead us to this question. Do we want to keep control of our lives, or do we want to be a conscious expression of God’s creative will? If our lives are expressions of confusion and difficulties, if we do not seem to be able to find the way, then perhaps this is the question we should be asking ourselves.
Most of us know this, but we avoid asking this central question and then wonder why we can’t get answers. We try to do everything else right, but we don’t come face to face with this central question: Am I here to satisfy my will, or am I here to be a conscious expression of God’s will? Let us first try to answer this question and then see what happens to all the other difficulties and obstacles in our life.