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For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest. Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes, and gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you back home again to your own land.
-Jeremiah 29: 11-14
I have read that scripture many, many times. Recently when I read it again I was absolutely brought to tears. There was so much in there that meant so much more than it ever had.
Plans for good, not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I will listen and you will find me if you look for me in earnest. I will end your slavery, restore your fortunes and bring you back to your own land! Sounds just like the political news channels or maybe where you work, doesn't it? Hardly.
Yet we go through our days tuned in to all the worldly things around us. Some of it is important, yes. But most of it isn't. Why do we look to humans for our answers? There's only one human we should look to and he was both human AND divine. His father was the author of the statement I opened this blog with!
On Tuesday, I started my third and final year in my Spiritual Direction certification. I've once again been submerged in Ignatius - the Spiritual Exercises, Lectio Divina, Examen, Discernment of Spirits, Contemplative Prayer, Centering Prayer. And, once again, I've had my perspective challenged.
As I was sitting in our all day class at the prayer house, it was a beautiful day and we were all filled up spiritually. We watched a video series to round out the day and I was challenged by my longing to live the contemplative life versus the worldly life of responsibility, the quiet life versus the life of achievement.
But then I realized that Ignatius teaches us to bring God into everything in our life. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. He understood that we have certain responsibilities here on earth and that it's possible to have a retreat in the real world on a daily basis, moment by moment. We do that by bringing the sacred to the mundane and keeping him in the forefront of our minds as we go about our daily life.
So as I was meditating on the scripture verses above, I began to cry. It suddenly became clear to me that God is already here. We just have to be aware of him. That could be done by carrying something special in your pocket to remind you, wearing a cross or medal around your neck, wearing a prayer bracelet or using your smartphone background image to remind you.
No matter what we do, he will always be there planning good for us, listening to us, coming to us if we earnestly look for him, ending our slavery, restoring our fortunes and bringing us back home to our own land. That doesn't mean that bad things won't happen. It just means that he will be there and carry us through when they do. I don't know of one person who can do all that. Do you?