March 9, 2013

Lenten Journey: God's Will for Me

For Reflection...

We know that all of us are called to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.  That is God's will for all of us.  But how might I discern what fruit I am called to bear?  What is God's will for me?

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Paul says, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone."  We're all called to bear fruit, all called according to the same Spirit, but not all gifted or called to serve or to act in the same way.

There are common fruits, "fruits of the Spirit":  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  These offer us a framework, a rubric against which to measure our own pursuits.  If we are using our gifts, and our actions and service are yielding these fruits of the Spirit, we are surely in accord with God's will.

Still, that leaves us a wide playing field.  There are many paths that may lead to love, joy, peace, and the rest.  Which one am I called to take?

As we have pursued this Lenten journey of prayer, opening ourselves to be drawn ever more deeply into the heart of God, we may find that we are growing in awareness of our own hearts, where God dwells.  As good as it is in and of itself for us to be in relationship with God -- it is, after all, what we are made for -- there is a public dimension to that relationship.  Remember Isaiah 49:6?  We are called to be a light to the nations.

Our light -- which is another way of talking about the fruit we produce -- is meant not to illuminate our minds only, but to be a beacon to the world, leading others into the healing, reconciling, saving Kingdom of God.

As we deepen our walk with God, we are ever being transformed into Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), who is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).  It is that transformation, the cultivation of the soil from which we grow, that creates the conditions that allow us to be fruitful.

For Entering In...

Spend a few moments in silence becoming present to yourself and to God.

Reflect on these questions:
  • There is no gift that God gives that is wasted; all of our gifts are needed (see 1 Corinthians 12:14-25). Think about what you do, what you've done, what you love to do.  What are the gifts that you have been given?  What are you good at?  What about you do others affirm?
  • Back when we were looking at sin, we asked this question:  "If it is true that all of creation is broken by sin, what do you see as the most egregious manifestations of that brokenness?  In what circumstances does your heart most cry out for God to act in healing and saving ways?"  If you haven't yet answered this question, answer it now.
  • Theologian Frederick Buechner said, "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."  Spend some time reflecting on your gifts together with the broken places your heart most yearns to see healed.  What might God be saying to you about your personal call?
  • God's will for me is not only about the broad contours of my vocation.  It can be about how I am living my life day to day.  As you listen to God in the stillness, is there something about your daily life, where you are and what you are doing today, that is called to your attention?  What do you know?  What do you wonder about what God might be saying to you?
We are growing to see our time apart, our quiet time with God, not as a discreet time of prayer, but as a reminder that all our life is prayer.  Rather than ending your prayer time, can you move out of your quiet reflection carrying with you into the rest of your day the knowledge that you are deeply connected to God in your soul in all that you do?

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