Thursday, March 4, 2010

How then shall we live?

Spiritual direction, spiritual directors, spiritual disciplines . . . and yet, “The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.” [bk. 3, ch. 34 The Imitation of Christ]

So then, what are we to make of all this striving, but no living? A man may live long, but how has he lived? Again we return to the words of the prophet of wisdom, “All is vanity.”

Called to live in community, but in community is conflict, confrontation and controversy. And again, the “old man” rises up to destroy unity and give the evil dweeb and his minions too many footholds. We espouse our positions, but fail to truly listen to each other, some refrain to share from our hearts for fear of retribution and insult. Is this the church? No wonder ascetics sought out solitude and silence. No wonder so many battered and beaten, by the world and their brothers, flee into hiding, fasting from the world and all its temptations.

Yes, show forth Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified! Come while there is still light, nay even come into the darkness!

We know not how to live, especially in community. Love does not rule our hearts, but envy and wrath . . . oh yes, we have plenty of that to go around! What do you make of all our striving Lord? We pursue righteousness but so falsely. All our exercises are empty, they lack your Presence . . . we only fool ourselves into mind games of activity in your Name, but again lack your Love.

Which spiritual discipline can rescue me from this pit? What spiritual director will guide me into that blissful path of righteousness that my heart yearns for? No Lord, I see that all is truly vanity aside from abiding in You. You Lord must be my goal, You must be my pursuit . . . that I would become more like you Jesus. To walk like you, to talk like you, to Love like you . . . how can this be? Show me Lord, guide me into paths of true righteousness, lead on Your Narrow Road . . . along the Good Red Road. Crucify this old flesh, make me anew . . . make to be love, compassion, mercy, humility . . .

My church has seen the absence of mature disciples, the lack of spiritually transformed people . . . and yet, we are confounded as to how to correct this Kingdom vacuum. Show me the Way Lord, guide me into all Truth.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. -- As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

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