Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
How do you train your heart to want what pleases God? Becoming a man or woman after God’s own heart is an age-old question. Saint Ignatius developed a plan in the fifteenth century. He wrote about a life’s orientation/direction asking if your life is taking you towards God (consolation) or away from God (desolation)? Desolation means the loss of a sense of God’s presence, aloneness, turmoil, confusion and maybe even rebellion. Consolation describes the interior movement of the heart that gives us a deep sense of life-giving connection with God, others and ourselves.
Ruth Barton, a contemporary spiritual formation author, has a chapter on Receiving Guidance in her book, Introduction to Solitude and Silence. She says the essence of “ the discernment process is the ability to pay attention not only to the obvious- circumstances, the clear meaning of pertinent Scriptures, the advice of friends who are wise in the Lord, the wisdom contained in our faith tradition – but also to the inner dynamics that give us clues as to whether the step we are considering will nurture life in us, the life of Christ lived in and through our most authentic self.” We have a new self, we are a new creature, and have a new heart made by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
How can we become more aware of the inner movements of the Holy Spirit in our hearts? We need to look for them and reflect on them (2 Timothy 2:6-7). We train our hearts by making it a habit to notice the inner movements of the Holy Spirit, and making choices to turn our mind and our feet toward God’s life – giving ways. We must read his word, pray, listen and obey. Adding up the many smaller awarenesses will inform our larger decisions. This working process aligns our hearts with the way of Jesus, bringing life to ourselves, to others, and God’s work in the world. Today begin the adventure of feeling the Holy Spirit move uniquely in your regenerated heart and hearing his voice. It takes practice. To start, read your name in these verses from Peter’s advice to those standing in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1: 3-8).
His divine power has granted to __________ all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called _____________ to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to _______________ his precious and very great promises, so that through them ________________may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement _________’s faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are ______________’s and are increasing, they keep ______________from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By Donna Burns