The “Second Week”: Week Eighteen/Session One.
Theme: The Call and Cost of Discipleship.
Our reading for today: Matthew 16: 24-26.
Then Jesus went to work on His disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow Me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16: 24-26 MsgB)
Jesus states it very clearly here. There’s really little room for debate.
If you and I intend to respond rightly to this amazing invitation from Jesus to “Come, follow Me,” than we will need to fully understand that the remainder of our lives on the other side of that decision will look radically different from the lives of those who decide to stay put. In other words, from this point forward, my following Jesus means that He’s in the driver’s seat of my life and I’m not!
Now Ignatius fully understood the severity of that statement and he chose to illuminate this crisis we all have in giving up control of our lives by writing about what he called, The Three Classes of Persons. For Ignatius (SE 149-157) he chose to reflect on three different concrete choices that three different people might make as they try to live according to the calling of God in their lives. As Father O’Brien states it in The Ignatian Adventure…
(We all) experience tension between the high ideals of Christ’s call and our lack of interior freedom and deeply imbedded resistances to Christ’s invitation to us personally…This preoccupation risks getting in the way of a greater good or a more generous response to God’s call.
Thus Ignatius identified three unique responses to Jesus’ invitation coming from three different people. In order to simplify his words, let’s call them:
The Truly Free Person.
Using Eugene Peterson’s “car & driver” theme in today’s scripture from Matthew 16, let’s look at these three personality types. First, let’s imagine Jesus, standing next to the Procrastinator. The car is packed and ready to go. Jesus is in the driver’s seat and calling for the Procrastinator to get in the car so they can hit the road for their long journey ahead. But the uncertainty of this road trip is scaring the Procrastinator out of her mind. She’s full of questions and doubts and quite honestly, part of her wants to get in the car and go on this once-in-a-lifetime journey with the Master, but the fear of loosing control of her life keeps her coming up with multiple reasons why she just can’t do it today. “Let me go check and see if I turned off the water,” the Procrastinator calls out to Jesus. “Oh wait, did I stop my mail at the Post Office?” “Ahhh…just a minute, I just remembered that I promised my boss I’d be there for an important meeting tomorrow.” The excuses go on and on. Eventually, Jesus grows tired of the excuses and tells her if she’s ever ready to go, give Him a call or drop Him an email!
The second driver is the Compromiser. This guy has no problem getting in the car with Jesus, but as they are cruising down the road, the Compromiser keeps insisting that Jesus pull over, so he can drive. “Jesus, I’m not sure this is the way to go…maybe we should pull over and let me drive,” says the Compromiser. “You look tired, Master, maybe you should sit over here and rest while I take a turn at the wheel.” Oh yeah, Jesus, I trust that You know the way, but I’m thinking this road may be closed ahead…” On and on it goes.
Finally, there’s the Truly Free Person who is able to calm all of her fears, put to rest all of her nervousness, and allow Jesus to call the shots. Oh yeah, there are times she gets nervous when it looks like Jesus just might be driving the car into places she’d prefer not to go, but when it’s all said and down, she chooses to trust the Driver more than she does her own thoughts and concerns. At times, she even decides to just close her eyes, sit back and allow the Master to do what He said He’d do. He’s the Driver. She’s not.
As I see it, the Truly Free Person is the one Ignatius believed to be free of inner disordered attachments, or personalized preoccupations that eventually get in the way of our trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. In truth, Jesus wants to be in the driver’s seat because He knows that we are not nearly as qualified to drive this course called life as He is.
More on that next time.
My prayer: Jesus, I find myself guilty as charged. Sadly I act much more like the Procrastinator and the Compromiser…much more than I honestly care to admit. But it’s Your grace and love that keep inviting me to become the Truly Free Person who can actually learn the fine art of letting go and letting God. Drive on, Master, drive on. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what aspects of the Procrastinator and the Compromiser are rising up inside me today? What action steps can I follow to overrule these characters so that I can be much more free of those inner disordered attachments that Ignatius points out in his writings?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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