December 9, 2009

The Wisdom To Know...

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." -- Reinhold Niebuhr

How can I know with certainty when I should accept serenely, or make a courageous change? On my own, I can never be certain.

God grant me...the wisdom to know the difference. Only God can grant this wisdom, and will do so in His time.

There are so many instances in which right seems to give way to might. There are so many things wrong with the world. Aren't we called to be peacemakers, facilitators of love and justice, witnesses of God's power? As I look around, I see this world needing a lot of care and a lot of change. Only God can properly direct my choices and actions.

I must regularly remind myself: I am a witness of God's power, not my own power. That means I have to seek and listen for His direction in knowing when to act--even when seemingly clear and obvious facts are screaming in my face--and when to accept. Only God can give me "the wisdom to know the difference."

It has happened more than once to me: when I wanted to be serenely peaceful, it was truly time for me to act. When I wanted to be brave and act boldly, it was time for me to wait. And wait. And wait some more.

So, it really seems to boil down to this: I cannot be the captain of my fate, the master of my soul. Only God can teach me how to live, and He does so moment by moment, and day by day. The most important thing I can do is keep ears and heart open for His guidance. Worrying about making a mistake is secondary.

The knowledge of how to live well is a gift from God. The power to exercise that knowledge is a grace of God. The desire to learn and live God's way is a mercy I can never deserve, but can always receive. How much and how often these gifts and graces show up and rule in my life is totally up to me. If I don't hear from God, it is because I have not taken the time to listen. Everywhere and always, He waits to grant me the serenity to accept, the courage to change, and the wisdom to know.

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