..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spiritual Examen: Using Spiritual Filters to Build Healthy Relationship with God

If we are to move toward a really intimate relationship with God then we must understand
that there are no secrets kept between two people that love each other. When we love
God we WANT to be known by Him and to KNOW Him. We want to hold nothing
back. We want to know every detail about God and we want Him to know every
detail about us

Notice what happens the first time that sin enters into the world in the garden of Eden:
hiding behavior! The beauty of unrestricted openness with God is gone. Somehow we,
in our blinded, sinful state, have allowed ourselves to believe that we can choose when to
come into God's presence or, on the other hand, when to choose not to.

 But God is everywhere and He is always with us, not as a Judge, or Chaperone,
or Watcher, but simply as our Father, our Creator, our Companion and Friend.
God created us for intimacy with Him.

Like attracts like. Goodness attracts goodness. How can two walk together unless
they be agreed? "But if we live in the light in the same way that God is in the light,
we have a relationship with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses
us from every sin." I John 1:7.  So it is not hiding from God that keeps us
safe, but walking with God in the Light of His Presence.

Think of all the filters in your life! We like to keep them clean because they trap
unwanted particles that clog up essential items: air conditioner filters trap pollutants
that you don't want to breath in; drain filters keep hair and debris from clogging
your drain pipes; water filters take out things that we would do better not drinking.
So let us not look at questions of spiritual examen as something that make us
feel ashamed and thus, drives us from God.

 Let us, instead,  use the questions as filters knowing that they catch unwanted
 things in our spiritual lives before they clog our relationship with God.  You do not
want to be separated from God. I know that I don't. And yet, sometimes God
feels distant. This does not happen for no good reason. God is still there, but
debris has come between us and Him.

If you only clean your bathtub sink drain once a year, your ability to enjoy
your cleansing time will be severely diminished. So let us catch spiritual problems before
they cause us further trouble. If you feel, "I have sinned so long and so much
that God does not want me around" then you misunderstand the dear heart of  God.

The prodigal son had many issues. If you met him in person you may not have liked
him, but he understood one thing: that his Father wanted him and that he could
always go back to him. Of course he had thought that life on the farm was a bore,
and that his older brother was a goody-two shoes, but it was his bad choice that
had caused him to leave, and it was his good choice that easily brought him back home.
Go back to God. What we learn in our exile is that God is always right and that
there is no place like Home.  Your sinfulness and mine is a paradox. Its right
to kill us has been dealt with on the cross of Christ: we have been forgiven.
Yet, our sinful nature still affects us because our complete conversion is a
gradual process. Of course, there is an initial moment when we choose God,
but it is lifetime of learning to give Him every bit ourselves freely and with
no reservations. All of my experience in life is custom made to allow me to
bring all of my heart, soul, mind and strength to Him. You are built for that
kind of connection with God.

So let us begin our examen with some general questions about our intimacy
with God. Its good to get in the habit of doing this often, even every day!
Our hearts should be going toward God continually, just like those
who love each other always want to know what the other is doing,,,
God, when did I sense Your presence the most in my day?

When did  I lose track of the fact that You are with me?

How do I see You loving me today, even when I didnt
see it in that moment?

How did I respond to the love You showed me?

and finally,

Did I love You today in such a way
that Your heart smiled?

Sit with these questions for a few moments and give
time for God to speak with you, and you with Him.

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