Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lead us not into temptation...

I've been distracted of late.
While I can't reveal here exactly what has been distracting me, I thought it was worth reflecting on how easy it is for us as human beings to lose focus when we're confronted with distractions, and how during these times of distraction it is that much more important that we stay in conversation with God - to keep us from wandering too far off track.

Distractions are inevitable.
God put us in a world full of shiny baubles that we find hard to resist.
We want, we desire, we covet.
We do these things so often God had to go and make not one, but THREE official Commandments to keep us from losing ourselves in our desires. Numbers 7,8, and 10 pretty much cover the spectrum of bauble desiring, stealing, and coveting.

Shiny baubles come in many forms - the latest techno gadget we can't afford, the bigger house we wish we had, the dream job that we can never seem to find, the unrequited love that tears at our heart.

We want, we desire, we covet.
Material things, experiences, people.

Of course what we're really seeking is security, happiness, and love.
And we think we're going to find it in a thing, in an experience, in a person.
And we do find security, happiness and love in all of the above.
We wouldn't be spiritual beings having a material experience if we didn't; we wouldn't be human.
But while we do derive happiness from things, experiences and people - TRUE happiness can only be found in God.
Loving God. Serving God. Discerning and doing God's will.

Which is why when we find ourselves to be overly distracted by the baubles, we need to ask ourselves, "What is it that I'm seeking? What is it that I'm missing? What is the message that God has for me here?"

Sometimes our desire and God's desire are one and the same.
But we need to pull our attention away from the bauble - the object of our desire - in order to determine whether our will is in sync with God's will.

This semester at seminary I've been learning a lot about discernment and how to put it into practice. There are many ways for us to to discern God's will by listening for the voice of God.
Centering prayer. Walking meditations. Lectio Divina. Clearness Committees.

I often go off on long walks with Jesus, picturing him walking beside of me, or just ahead of me, as we have a conversation. The rational mind may be inclined to think that both sides of the conversation are coming from within oneself, but experience tells me otherwise. The Jesus that walks beside me often offers insights and startling responses that I had never considered. I've come to trust the process, and to trust that this is the way that God has chosen to speak to me.....Because I have chosen to listen.

The bauble still dangles before me.
The desire is still there.
God's will regarding the presence of this desire in my life is still to be determined.
But as long as I keep my focus on God, and stay in conversation with God, the bauble itself is less of a distraction.

Through the practice of discernment, the very presence of God and my acknowledgment of God's presence has gifted me with the security, happiness and love that I desire.
It hasn't negated my human desires, but I don't believe that it is God's intention to do so.
God gave us the created world and God gave us each other.
God wants us to find security, happiness, and love in the created world and in each other.
We are created in the image of a Triune God who lives in relationship with Godself.
We in turn were created to live in a Triune relationship with God, Creation, and each other.
We can't live in relationship unless we first desire relationship.
Desire is not an evil thing.
But it can easily trip us up and lead us away from God if we're not careful.

Therein lies the difficulty of living this human experience.
Shiny baubles abound.
Some we're allowed to have, because God wills it; others we are not, because God knows it is not what is best for us.

So I will continue to discern, I will continue to listen for the voice of God, I will continue to shift my gaze off my distraction so that I may better see the messages that God has dropped along my path.

What about you?
What shiny baubles are serving as a distraction in your life?

God may call us to embrace our desires, or God may call us to let them go.
And if we truly love God, we must accept God's will even if it contradicts our own.

And at no other time is the following phrase more appropriate:
In the meantime, me and Jesus.......we have a lot of walking to do.

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