Days of Preparation: Week One/Session Two.
Theme: God’s Unconditional Love for Me.
Our reading for today: Luke 12: 22-34.
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very Kingdom itself.” Luke 12: 29-32 (MsgB)
In recent months, Jesus and I have been having an intense conversation about EMPTY.
It all started one day when I was complaining to the Master about how He wasn’t following my lead.
Have you ever had a conversation like that with the Good Shepherd? Mine kinda went like this:
“Jesus, I’ve been serving you faithfully now in pastoral ministry for 30-plus years. I’m 63 years old, getting a bit tired on the edges, and definitely moving slower now than I was sixteen years ago when I started this church You asked me to start here in Cedar Rapids. There’s no retirement for me and Sandy; I’m needing to transition from my present role at the church and begin to pour my energies into the work You’re giving us to do right now.”
(Note that the Holy Spirit has been crystal-clear in the last year or so that Sandy & I are to spend the remainder of our days becoming spiritual directors and contemplative coaches, making our rounds with fellow pastors and church leaders, becoming subversive proponents for Christ-centered contemplate activism wherever we go). So now. Back to the intense conversation with the Master…
“And Jesus, You’ve been giving us this new job to do, opening up doors of opportunities, but quite frankly, Father, You’re doing a pretty lousy job of providing for us financially as we go! The opportunities are there. The money ain’t! What’s the deal?”
After a long period of silence, I sensed the Lord responding to my frustrations with a gentle, yet firm sentence. One that has stuck with me for months now.
“Marty, you’re really afraid of EMPTY aren’t you?”
Now please, don’t get mad at me, folks, but here’s what I said in return.
“Damn right, God. I hate EMPTY. I’ve battled EMPTY my whole life. EMPTY wallets. EMPTY pews. EMPTY hopes. EMPTY dreams. EMPTY promises. Damn it, Father. Yes. I’m not only afraid of EMPTY. I freakin’ hate EMPTY.
“Hmm,” the Lord replied. “I guess we’ll need to talk more about this, won’t we, son?”
So in recent weeks, I’ve found myself, as I stew over EMPTY, reading the words of Jesus here in Luke’s gospel. Apparently His disciples were a bit concerned, like most earth-dwellers I know, with EMPTY as well.
So Jesus talked about not being consumed with EMPTY closets, EMPTY refrigerators, and EMPTY wallets. He said…(let me re-phrase it)….
“What I’m trying to do here, Marty, is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with EMPTY so you can respond to God’s view of EMPTY. You, Marty, just don’t know God and the way He works! You, my son, fuss over EMPTY, but, in truth, you know both God and how He works, but you’re failing to put it into practice! So…step out of your consuming fear of EMPTY and steep yourself, Marty, in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met there. And don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friend! The Father wants to give you, Marty, the very Kingdom itself.”
Dang. Trumped again by the Master. In recent weeks He’s been showing me how in His Kingdom economy, the math looks like this:
EMPTY + Marty = 0
EMPTY + Jesus = Everything Marty will ever need to live the life God intends for me to live.
Hmm. Guess I need to steep myself in God-reality versus continuing my stewing here in EMPTY.
What say you?
My prayer: OK, Father. You win. I have spent the majority of my life fearing EMPTY and doing everything I can in my power to avoid it. I choose today to steep myself instead in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Jesus, I prefer seeking the Kingdom rather than avoiding EMPTY. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What are my thoughts and actions conveying today? Am I stewing over worries and anxieties, fearing EMPTY; or am I choosing instead to seek first the Kingdom of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to help me focus my thoughts and energies on all Jesus can do in the midst of my EMPTY?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.