11.1 Discernment: Growing Up Before We Grow Old.

Listen to this!

Today’s Lectio Divina: 

God spoke: “Let Us make human beings in Our image, make them reflecting Our nature, so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; He created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!” Then she had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer. Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” Genesis 1: 26-28, 4: 1-7 (MsgB)

Ignatian Truth #11: Ignatian spirituality is all about Rules of Discernment. A discerning person is always looking for an inner awareness of the movement of the Spirit, asking the question, “Am I being driven or drawn?” Ignatius’ analogy of a drop of water hitting a sponge (consolation) or a rock (desolation) is helpful, and a discerning person knows to keep discerning even after a decision is made, and not to change a decision made in a season of consolation when found in a time of desolation.

When it comes to maturing in the Christian faith, my long-time pastoral mentor, John Wimber, taught me this simple prayer…

Lord, help me to grow up before I grow old.

You see, it’s one thing to draw close to God, asking Him to bring salvation into our lives. But, it’s quite another to mature in the ways of God, learning to walk out my gift of salvation on a daily basis.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, states this truth about himself…

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 1 Corinthians 13: 11 (NIV)

For St. Ignatius, it was vitally important for those who journeyed through his Spiritual Exercises to fully embrace this on-going need for wise discernment in the life of any Christ-follower.

I find it interesting if we go back to the very beginning of our human existence on planet earth, we find our Creator, in Genesis, prodding us to live up to the high calling placed on our lives. In Genesis 1 we see that God places us, as human beings, as assigned stewards of this earth, taking ownership and responsibility of both ourselves and all creation around us. Over in Genesis 4, we find God reminding Adam’s son, Cain, to “grow up” and take responsibility for his life, not allowing his emotions and evil thoughts to run roughshod over his high calling as a steward of God’s creation.

Sadly, we find that Cain fails miserably here at his ability to discern and control his anger, leaving him and the entire human family he represents with the stain of blood on his guilty hands.

So, where does that leave you and me?

Friends, as I see it, it’s time for some Christ-followers to awake from our child-like slumber and start living our lives as God intended us to live. Our Creator, in Genesis, calls us stewards, not stooges.

As one wise pastor once told me, “Marty, God’s gift of salvation is free, but everything else in the Christian life costs you something!”

So, join me this week as we look a bit deeper at this urgent need for you and me to grow up in our Christian faith before we grow old, becoming men and women of wisdom and discernment in an age where so few seem to be able to discern their head from their ass…phalt.


My prayer: Father God, as the world around us seems to slip further and further into childish self-centeredness, self-consumption, and self-promotion, I believe You are always looking for someone in the room to act like an adult, allowing wisdom, truth, and discernment to light the way through the darkness. Holy Spirit, please come indwell and empower me to this higher call. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Where have I become complacent, or maybe even content, with the “dumb and dumber” approach to life that seems so prevalent in today’s society? Like Cain, am I hearing the voice of God inviting me to more? Is sin lying in wait for me, ready to pounce…out to get me…and yet, am I ignoring God’s call for me to master it?

How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today? 

Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.

If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.

Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activistwith your friends! 

Click here to go on to the next blog/podcast in this series…

1 thought on “11.1 Discernment: Growing Up Before We Grow Old.

  1. Pingback: 10.3 Holy Indifference: Mary’s Welcoming Prayer. | The Contemplative Activist

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