When St Francis of Assisi was dying, he told his Friars that he had done everything in his power to follow Christ, in the way the Spirit guided him. Then he asked them to do the same. The implication is that God has a plan for each of us and what makes our lives meaningful is our willingness to embrace cooperation with the Holy Spirit in everything we do. We fail when we try to measure God’s plan in earthly terms.
So how do we know we are following the spirit? Certainly most of our most cherished saints struggled with this all their lives, but here is a thought on the process:
Our Savior, Jesus Christ gave us a Commandment to “love each other as I have loved you”. This commandment that is stated in all four Gospels and the Letters of St Paul is as universal as it is ambiguous, but it can change our lives if we embrace and apply it.
My belief is that Jesus gave us His new commandment with the understanding that each moment and situation has a loving response. Our struggle to find and apply that response with the help of the Holy Spirit is all we need to do in this life. Each time we respond with love, we are doing exactly what God is asking us in that moment and fulfilling His plan. As we progress through life, our actions and responses of love open some doors and close others. This is the evolution of God’s plan for us.
These doors may lead to very visible activities or very humble ones. Our surrender to God’s will and active response through love are all that matter. As a dear friar once told me, “life gets a lot more interesting when we let Jesus drive”.