While on retreat last week I read a profound book entitled “Night’s Bright Darkness” by Sally Read. In it she recounts her rapid conversion to the Catholic faith from atheism. In the space of nine months Read journeyed through difficulties, doubts, and objections to arrive at her spiritual home – the Catholic Church. Above all her story is an encounter with Jesus Christ and his love. This love, she knew, called for a response. Often though, Read did not know what she was to do. So she asked, “What do you want me to do?” Like a refrain, she repeated this question many times and listened in the quiet of her heart for an answer. Gradually the plan of God became evident in her life.
St. Paul also asked this question during his own conversion recounted in chapter nine of the Acts of the Apostles. His encounter with Jesus while traveling to Damascus was much more sudden and intense. A bright light and a voice from heaven knocked him to the ground. Dazed and trembling St. Paul asked the Lord “what do you want me to do?” At that moment he didn’t learn the complete plan, only the next step “rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” St. Paul did as he was told and ever after his life would take on a completely new dimension and a decisive direction.
Every Christian should work up the courage to ask frequently, “what do you want me to do?” Doing so is a generous act of love. Then we must listen quietly for God to respond. Sometimes this response will come in the form of interior thoughts or desires or it may come through the written Word of God or through another person. This is how we accomplish the will of God in our lives, not only in great things, but in little ones too. And the will of God is always an exciting adventure. Just ask Sally Read or, better yet, read her book.