Friday, November 21, 2008

Daily - 11/21/08

James 4:7-10

7 So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.

9 Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

1 Peter 1:13-16

13 Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

14 Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance

15 but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,

16 for it is written, "Be holy because I (am) holy."

James and Peter are speaking directly on the subject of submitting to God’s authority.
It isn't until one truly submits to God's authority that they even see the need for obedience. Until then, God’s commands are really just a list of good things to live by. Once one submits to God's authority, the light shines on the self, and you are able to see yourself (to the extent possible for a human) through God's eyes. And once that happens, the necessity of obedience becomes obvious – you can see with your own eyes how short you truly are of what can be, and the desire for obedience begins to grow.

Look at the verses from James. Submit to god, draw close to Him, and He will draw close to you. Purify your hearts, “you of two minds.” What are the two minds? For me, this is the state I was in when I was feeling God’s pull through scripture and prayer, but I wasn’t ready to make an “all in” commitment. I was beginning to see the truth, and “kind of” trying to follow God, but I wasn’t ready to put the flesh to death, and was holding on to the life I had.

I distinctly remember the day that I submitted to God’s authority. I was at Mass on a Sunday, and was really troubled about a couple of things. I knew that I had been resisting submission to God, and I knew that it was holding back my spiritual growth. But I also knew that submission meant obedience, and THAT meant letting go of some worldliness – habits and mindsets that were precious to me. I was afraid of letting go, because all I could think about was how much I was going to lose, of what I’d have to give up, of the fun I was going to miss, of the security I might miss, and of what people would think of me.

Submitting to God’s authority requires significant work on our part. It means knowing what the rules are, and committing to following them. Look at the verses above. Humble yourself. Do not act in the desires of your former ignorance. Live soberly. Cleanse your hearts. Purify your mind. That takes work, and it’s a lifelong process. I pray almost daily for God’s help along this road, and the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are critical to this process for me.

It is a major spiritual struggle to take this step. But once I started, blessings flowed. I began to understand pieces of scripture that I just couldn’t comprehend before. Certain things that I’d been praying for months and even years started to happen. These daily emails changed from an intellectual exercise to something much more – an exploration of faith which has drawn me ever closer to God. I have developed a desire to make myself available to God, so that he can use me to share some of the things I’ve learned.