I have been struggling with a "big" question recently. Setting aside the "why" of what brings this up, I wonder: if you believe there is a God, and he/she has preferences or even plans for what little you are supposed to be doing here on earth, how do we know what that plan is for our lives? A lot of religious teaching (certainly Christian, Methodist teaching with which I'm most familiar) indicates that God knows you and has a plan for your life. That's pretty daunting, if you believe it. THE God, the creator of the universe and all heaven and earth, has a plan in which you do something. You are part of that plan.
Unfortunately, there is no blueprint. There is no note from God saying "Erin, get a degree in nursing so you can care for the sick in my name." There usually is no visitation from Gabriel, head angel, who tells you to marry Mr. Right or divorce Mr. Wrong. There is no sign written in the clouds (or on the third base scoreboard, like in Field of Dreams) saying "Go The Distance"...or, perhaps "Apply for The Job."
So how do we know? Can we know?
I don't know. At the moment, all I get is a sense that maybe I'm not in the place I'm supposed to be. Not right now. In the past, whether from God or from where ever, I've felt a sense of fulfillment when I can help people, when I can ease their suffering, return them to health, prevent problems or help solve them. And I have knowledge and skills which allow me to do that in more than one arena at this point. But am I using those to do what I'm "supposed" to be doing, according to God's plan?
For example, I can work all dang day at the office and feel sick and tired of it all. All. Day. Yeah, sure, I wrote this response, filed that pleading. So what? But after work, I can go over to our dear Aunt's house as I have been, visit with her, and read a few chapters of the Bible to her, and feel like I've done something good. I actually do research on what chapters might be comforting to someone facing death, or reassuring of salvation, or God's love, just to have good selections to read to her. It struck me early on, as I went into her home, that I was actually kind of like a minister, showing up with my Bible in hand. And she asks me "Did you bring your book?" when I visit, because she's looking forward to our time reading.
What's more, I feel that the concept of me reading to her was an idea right from God (or the Holy Spirit, if you want to get technical.) No, I am not saying God talks to me (he's busy talking to Glenn Beck, if you believe him), but the day we saw the neurosurgeon and, while waiting for the car, she asked me "do you think the days will be long, waiting for the end...." I was filled with grief and sorrow for her, and the next day I was asking myself, what can I do? What would I be doing if I knew I would die in two months? And right away, I answered myself: I'd be reading a lot of the Bible! And immediately it came to me that I could read it to her, since she is nearly blind and cannot see to read anymore. And as soon as I had that thought, I just KNEW it was the right thing, it was what she would need, and it was what God would want me to do. I felt peace about that situation right then and there.
So how and when can we get those answers in other areas of life? Over the past weeks, I've devoted much more time to meditative prayer, even going as far as to (don't tell anyone since I'm not Catholic and have issues with certain aspects of that "denomination") use rosary beads to focus my prayer and meditation. I'm waiting, but nothing yet.
I seem to recall being taught that you will know when it is time to know. You get what you need when you need it. Perhaps that's the answer...maybe I should stop struggling and trust that God will let me know when it's time to take my next big step!