To be honest, I was somewhat confused by the way the question was put. At the same time, its logic is generally understood. God gave me life, and clearly, He has a plan for me. It would be odd to believe that the Almighty is indifferent to the fate of His creation. Truly, there is God’s providence for each one of us, and then there is our personal choice. We choose between looking for the will of God and living a meaningful life, or ignoring it and facing the sad consequences.
Such an idea of “following the Divine plan”, where everything about you is supposedly already decided in advance, appears quite simple, except it really is akin to swimming with the flow.
However, this kind of a sad picture is not in line with Christianity. Rather it resembles the fatalism of the Stoics, who believe that “the fates lead the willing and drag the unwilling”.
Thankfully, I remembered the story of our famous traveller, Father Fyodor Konyukhov. Once, he took part in a boat race where his rival was a French athlete, a very strong young fellow. The competition was fierce; But Father Fyodor was much more experienced than his opponent.
He had a good knowledge of all the ocean currents on this route. These invisible “ocean rivers” are constantly flowing in one direction at high speed. At the beginning, the French athlete immediately rushed forward, while Fr. Fyodor slowly began to look for such an underwater stream.
After the race, he recalled, ”Eventually, I caught up with my opponent. That young, strong athlete was a really good oarsman. However, I was able to outsail him only rowing a little, so as not to lose the current. He must have been surprised to see my boat sail “by itself”. The secret is simple: it was his first race on this route, while I had sailed there fifteen times already. So, my experience won me that victory.”
This story helped me answer the question that initially puzzled me. Yes, one can say that living according to the will of God is the same as sailing along with the current. It’s just that this current is not a river, but rather an ocean one. There are many flows in the ocean, and you need to understand them well if you want to cross it in a sailing or rowing vessel. If you find one that carries you in the right direction, consider half the job done. All that remains is to ensure that you do not lose it, falling into stagnant water, or into a stream that can take you in a completely different direction.
I think that the Lord has determined such a “stream” for each of us. We also have the Gospel commandments, the guidelines that mark these currents in the endless waters of life. St. Mark the Ascetic says: “The commandments do not eradicate sin – this is the work of the one True Cross. The commandments serve to keep the limits of our personal freedom.” By living the commandments, we remain within the good flow of God’s plan. Living this life requires certain efforts from a person. Therefore, to follow the will of God in Christianity in no way means an idle or passive state. Our work is to find this flow among many others, to enter it, and to make sure that we are not left out of it. The Lord will provide the rest.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds