Be simple like God
I have been thoroughly enjoying Fr. Mike Schmitz’s daily “read the bible in a year” program at Ascension Press. While doing mindless tasks like laundry, my mind is filled listening to the scriptures being read out loud, followed by a prayer and a few minutes of his thoughts. Whether it is Leah’s woundedness feeling least loved by Jacob, or Esau so lacking control over his own passions that he sold his birthright for porridge (because he was famished), each day we are given a tidbit that later can be taken to God in our mental prayer.
We also heard scriptures of Job’s dilemma, his agony, and his friends. When the friends first arrive, they simply sit with him in silent prayer. This is the response God wants for us too! But then they decide to give him advice, so sure of their opinions based in their understanding of God and his workings. They can only see Job’s plight as a punishment from God for a hidden sin.
Now, we know God works His justice by removing His grace so as to leave us to endure the natural consequences of our choices. As parents, we do the same for our children so that they learn and change their ways. Our children remain under our oversight and we would never let them suffer a life-threatening consequence. We remain in prayer watching over them, possibly offering a small guidance to help them understand the cause of their consequence. Real justice comes from mercy and mercy, from love. It isn’t punitive nor hard-hearted. When suffering my own natural consequences, I can have much more peace by simply maintaining awareness of God with me even in these times. Then I can focus on how God is embracing me in His love even though everything around me may make Him seem distant. And in that disposition, all thoughts of blame or shame dissipate. He replaces those with Himself. It is the difference between talking at God vs. relating with Him.
Fr. Schmitz’s reflection (Day 16), however, centered on Job’s friends. Too often we give platitudes or wrong advice wanting the person’s problem resolved. perhaps thinking we have it figured out.
Considering this from the perspective of living the discerning life, we can also reflect upon our reaction in those times when we have received advisements. This can take a number of forms: wrongly dwelling one’s own sinfulness due to lack of proper self-love; believing God is a punisher as if He has a master-slave relationship with us; chasing after any ‘solution’ given to us in attempt to gain control of the situation ourselves; for similar reasons, depending upon friends who believe themselves to have charism of discernment or prophecy which provides a diversion from our going to this ‘punishing’ God directly. Whatever wound and brokenness is in the mix, the errant resolution pitched at us can prevent us from being healed of the very wound into which God desires to take us.
Now, stepping back and realizing that the purpose God has removed His grace is so that we learn from the natural consequences of our choices, these diversions impede this ‘learning’. It is helpful, and commonly needed, to have input from Christian friends and family into our situation. After all, we were created to be in community with one another through Jesus Christ. But our seeking and accepting guidance (as well as giving it!) must be driven by the Holy Spirit. We otherwise risk clouding our spiritual instinct woven into the essence of our being, that instinct to sense God and follow Him. Our spiritual instinct can sense when something is amiss, rationale is slightly ajar, etc. By willing to return to God (rather than blind acceptance of someone’s ideas or to over-rely upon our own reasoning) we grow in steadfastness and are disposed to small doses of healing.
The Christian life is actually very simple. In addition to the sacraments, all we need is:
- The Word in scripture to form our intellect like His.
- Our God-given spiritual instinct to guide us on the providential path He already has laid out.
- The desire to do so.
Everything else will fall into place if we stick to this foundation. Be simple like God.
Open, O Lord, the ark-door of your side, that all your own who shall be saved may enter in, before this flood that overwhelms the earth.
Open to us your body’s side, that those who long to see the secrets of your Son may enter in, and may receive the sacraments that flow therefrom, even the price of their redemption.
Open the door of your heaven, that your redeemed may see the good things of God in the land of the living, though thy still labor in the land of the dying.
Let them see and long and yearn and run, for you have become
the way by which they go,
the truth to which they go,
the life for which they go. (William of Thierry)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
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