The “Second Week”: Week Twenty-Two/Session Three.
Theme: Jesus as Human and Divine
Our reading for today: Galatians 5: 22-23.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5: 22-23 MsgB)
As we conclude, today, St. Ignatius’ “Second Week” of his Spiritual Exercises, (the longest “Week” of his “Four Weeks”) it’s important to stop, look, and listen for some of the fruit of our journey thus far. As we’ve walked with Jesus over these last thirty-six blog sessions, exploring many of the biblical accounts of His life and ministry, we’ve hopefully begun to see the amazing ways in which our Master preferred and deferred to, on a daily basis, God’s Kingdom rule and reign; choosing the will of His Father as compared to following His own interests or personal desires.
St. Ignatius called this holy decision-making, Election, an ability to choose wisely as we are confronted with the many difficult decisions we face throughout this life. Decisions on whether we will follow God and His ways, as compared to picking those answers that might possibly seem easier or less costly to our personal lives. In John 5:19, we find Jesus spelling it out very clearly. Kingdom-centered Election is when a person, who desires to honor God, chooses intentionally, to say or do only those things he or she sees, or senses, the Father saying and doing.
Now don’t get me wrong here. This type of holy Election doesn’t come easily, nor does it come quickly. As author Eugene Peterson once wrote, this type of discipleship, where one chooses to follow the path of Christ instead of our own personal whims and desires, comes only through what he called “long obedience in the same direction.”
But here’s the good news.
A quick look at the lives of those saints who have held their ground on godly Election does, indeed, reveal a multitude of blessings for both the saint, themselves, and for those who follow in the footsteps of such godly men and women.
So what about us here in the twenty-first century? What’s the fruit of our decision-making? What kind of trail are we leaving for others as we walk through this journey in life, following the Master wherever He might lead?
In today’s scripture reading (Galatians 5) Paul makes it very clear to his friends. A life that is lived God’s way (versus a life that is lived our own way) will bear baskets full of good fruit, just as a healthy apple orchard will produce tasty apples for the farmer who tends his or her orchard. In other words, as I live a Kingdom-focused life, like Jesus did, choosing to prefer and defer to the will of the Father, there will be, over time, healthy by-products to that way of living.
Paul described just nine of the delicious varieties of apples hanging from the branches of trees such as these. As we conclude today’s blog, let’s review with him the fruit he found hanging from his own tree of life, as he daily chose to live the life-style of humble obedience modeled by Jesus of Nazareth.
- Affection for others. (love)
- Exuberance about life. (joy)
- Serenity. (peace)
- A willingness to stick with things. (forbearance)
- A sense of compassion in the heart. (kindness)
- A conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. (goodness)
- An ability to involve ourselves in loyal commitments. (faithfulness)
- A freedom to not need to force our way in life. (gentleness)
- An ability to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (self-control)
Hmm. Sure looks like some pretty good eatin’ going on here! Anyone care to join us?
My prayer: Jesus, I see in Your life, and in the lives of others who have gone before me, tasty fruit that truly glorifies the Father, honors You, the Son, and bears great witness to the Holy Spirit within us. I choose, this day, Father God to live a life that blesses you, that my orchard might bear these same juicy apples Paul speaks of in his letter to the Galatians. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what fruit is being picked out of my orchard today? Is it healthy fruit? Does it glorify and honor Jesus and His advancing Kingdom? Finally, does it have the appearance of being a tasty apple but sour to those who bite into it? What changes do I need to make in my daily decision-making so that my orchard become a blessing to those who follow in my path?
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!
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