Jesus’ instruction to pray to God, “thy will be done” is an essential part of Christian practice. Many saints, like Ignatius, have asked God to assist them in letting go of their own wills in favor of God’s will, as we find in the Suscipe: “Take, Lord, and receive, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.” This is both a difficult and worthwhile enterprise. Giving up one’s own will requires deep trust that in all circumstances, God is actively laboring to create good. No matter how much things may go seem to go awry, God is always working for love and reconciliation.
Still, I am growing to understand that the invitation from God is to a wider sense of freedom than what is found in simple obedience. God is not a micromanager who tells us how to run the details of our lives. Instead, God calls each one of us to a generosity and freedom such as we see in the parable of talents (Matthew 25:14–30). There, a master gives his servants coins to keep while he is away. Some decide out of their own free will to use the funds in a way that reaps growth, although there is the risk of loss, while another buries his coins, presumably awaiting further instruction. Those who take the risk to act in freedom are praised, while the one who buried his treasure is not. God asks us, too, to enter into a genuine partnership with God, where we are often given a great deal of liberty in terms of how to “spend our talents.”
This freedom can be a little bit scary: it is so much easier for me to remain within the confines of what I think God—or, more likely, my culture, my workplace, or supervisor—wills me to do. But God calls us to greater maturity than that. We are invited to take seriously Jesus’ words that we are called to be not his servants, but friends (John 15:15). As in any friendship, we do, of course, listen to what a friend asks us to do and respond out of love, but we also seek to love another generously in creative ways that are not already asked for. This freedom to act as partners with God involves risks: the risk of being wrong, of being downright unhelpful, or even of total failure. But this same freedom also brings us into closer relationship with God, for to undertake it makes our love more like God’s.
Where is God calling you to a deeper level of freedom? Where might you risk spending your gifts and talents?