The “Second Week”: Week Twenty-One/Session Three.
Theme: The Kingdom of God.
Our reading for today: Matthew 6: 30-34.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to 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 your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6: 30-34 MsgB)
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to make a hard decision?
Quality decision-making, quite honestly, is not for the weak-kneed or the feeble-minded. It can be a gut-wrenching experience. It can give you grey-hair and an upset stomach. It can also cost you your dearest friends, your most prized-possessions, and yes, even sometimes, your very life. That’s why some people shy away from making tough decisions, living their whole life in a land of make-believe, hoping they’ll never have to be pushed into that corner where a difficult decision is demanded of them.
But here’s the truth. Human history seems to indicate that it’s the people who have the guts to make really hard decisions in this life who generally end up making the most positive difference in this world.
This is why I believe St. Ignatius made such a big deal out of what he called Election…the task of making a noble commitment and choice between two or more good options. As we discussed last time, it’s obvious that Jesus of Nazareth, as He lived and ministered amongst God’s flock in the first century, was able to do just that. And in my book, I believe this is one of the key reasons the Master has become one of the most admired leaders in world history.
Here, in today’s text, we find yet another pearl in understanding how Jesus viewed all decision-making in His life. His conclusion is, quite honestly, earth-shattering, and truthfully, well beyond what most of us are comfortable with. For you see, Jesus was a man who could prioritize His options when faced with a major decision. And in today’s text, we find Jesus sharing with us His primary way of prioritizing life. The answer, you ask?
Seek ye first, the Kingdom of God.
I truly love the way Eugene Peterson translates this passage in The Message Bible. Rather than use the traditional words, Peterson says it this way…
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.
Hmm. Sound familiar?
It should, because as we looked at earlier this week, for Jesus, when He deferred Himself fully to the Kingdom of God, He was seeking the full right of God, the Creator, to rule and reign over His life. In other words, when Jesus prioritized His options, placing the interest of God’s Kingdom over and above all other possibilities, He is deciding that He wants the will of His Father (Kingdom come) right here, right now, through the in-breaking power and presence of God’s Kingdom!
Whew. Now, that’s a mouthful.
But as I see it, if you and I can begin to follow in these decision-making footsteps left by the Master, I believe we will indeed learn, in this lifetime, the fine art of Kingdom-based decision-making. More on that next week.
My prayer: Jesus, I want to relax, as You said, not being so preoccupied with getting, so I can respond to God’s giving. Master, I want to steep my life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions, not worrying about missing out. So Holy Spirit, please come and empower me this day to give my entire attention to what God is doing right here, right now. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Living this Kingdom-based life Jesus talks about; where I seek first, the rule and reign of God, does not come easily for me. What practical steps do I need to take today to change my way of thinking when making hard decisions? What will it look like for me to prioritize my options, placing God’s interest and desires over and above other possibilities?
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.
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