Although the Almighty is beyond the power of human understanding to grasp, Christians believe that knowing God’s Will is possible because Jesus, in his humanity offered for our sakes, has given us real access to God.
The kind of knowledge the Risen Lord gives us is different than the
merely factual kind of knowing. Such factual knowledge is all about
simply knowing what to do – how to make or fix something. There is
nothing to be gained in approaching the Mystery of the Living God like a
God and his Holy Will is, instead, deeply personal. In this loving
knowledge, St. John of the Cross explains, love (not naked reasoning)
leads us forward into the Divine Mystery. What the intellect understands
follows behind our love for the One who discloses Himself. The loving
will knows the Loving Will of God and a union of wills, each given to
the other, becomes possible. This love is a friendship love – it sees
the goodness and beauty of God because it has loved Him and been loved
by Him first. St. Paul calls this the Wisdom of God (see 1 Cor 6-13).
Some theologians call this experimental or experiential knowledge of
God. There really are not words to describe this kind of knowledge – yet
those who know the Lord in this way really have something to say,
something the world needs to hear, something we need in our lives.
With this kind of loving knowledge, a joy, peace and a dynamic
self-possession grows in the heart. Every time someone acts in accord
with this loving knowledge of God, these fruits increase — sometimes
exponentially. This fruit, which St. Paul enumerates in his letter to
the Galatians, is produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). When we choose
to act in accord with the loving knowledge the Lord shares with us, it
frees the Holy Spirit to be fruitful in our hearts.
It is possible to act against this knowledge, to act as if we were
ignorant of God. St. Paul warns against living with our minds conformed
to this age or like those whose minds are darkened (Rom 12:2, Eph 4:18).
It is possible for those who believe in Christ to choose to live in the
flesh – to allow the unconscious hidden drives of our nature to make
our decisions for us, not only in big things, but especially in the
little things we think no one knows and no one will be hurt by. This
living in intentional ignorance is what keeps us immature spiritually –
acting against what we know in our hearts.
There is no reason for discouragement if we suddenly realize that
most of our lives we have chosen to live in ignorance. Teresa of Avila
lived like this until she was almost forty years old. The Lord however
would not let her continue – and when she was off her guard, He pierced
her to the heart with His Love. Just as He touched her to the core, He
can touch any one of us – it is something worth asking for, something
worth enduring every kind of trial to obtain.
So the spiritual life really begins when we take up the struggle to
make room in our lives for the loving knowledge of God that only Jesus
gives. This is why Christians must make silent prayer a priority in
their lives. It is a knowledge that comes from the Cross and doing all
we can to gain this knowledge is worth it.