The “First Week”: Week Eight/Session Two.
Theme: My Own History of Sin and Grace.
Our reading for today: Psalm 32.
Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.” (Psalm 32: 8-9 MsgB)
Paul calls his unredeemed flesh, ‘the old man.’ David, in Psalm 32, likened it to an ornery old mule or horse; one that needs a strong bit and bridle to keep it from wandering off the path.
In the earliest days of the Catholic church, the term cardinal sins (or mortal sins) came into use. And in an attempt to help us tame this fleshly carnality that lies deep within our being, the concept of seven deadly sins was created in order to identify the outward manifestations of our inward self-deceptions.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, the seven mortal sins are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. One for every day of the week! And if you’re as stubborn, ornery, and creative as me, you can even find a way to put more than one mortal sin into any one twenty-four hour period…if you know what I mean?
So, as we’ve been exploring St. Ignatius’ instructions to survey our sinful nature, it’s quite appropriate to get down and dirty with this one sad truth:
When left to my own devices, I really enjoy the times when I act like the ornery old jackass David talks about in Psalm 32!
There, I said it.
In truth, you see, the seven deadly sins often come to us wrapped up in very attractive packages. I mean…let’s get honest here. What person in their right mind goes wandering into a minefield if there isn’t something very attractive waiting for us on the other side?
As I see it, until I come to the full realization that my ‘old man’ within is really a ‘dirty old man’ who actually enjoys rolling in the dirt, there probably is little hope that I’ll want Jesus to deliver me from my wayward ways. Susanna Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley, said it this way back in 1725…
Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.
Yikes. Spoken just like a mom who knows her kids pretty well!
Sin is attractive. And I can fool myself as much as I want, but the sad truth is that there are countless ways I consciously choose things in this life that will feed my lusts, but I forget that those same choices are also killing my life with God!
So now, with that truth in mind, I think it wise to get out my bit and bridle and place it firmly on this ornery old jackass named Marty Boller. I figure as long as I have life within me, it will be a constant work of good stewardship for me to keep this ‘old man’ on the road to Jesus and His holiness, while not wandering down the path of self-consumption, where I eat apples from poisonous trees and pick plums from dying bushes.
What about you? How’s you ornery old jackass doing today?
My prayer: Jesus, thank You for helping me see my unredeemed self as I really am. When left unattended, I stray off the road, following attractive enticements that, quite honestly, will kill me in the end. Holy Spirit, come. Holy Spirit, convict. Holy Spirit, lead on. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where is the ornery old jackass kicking up dust today? How is he trying to push his way down pathways Jesus doesn’t want me to pursue? What pro-active steps can I take today to keep my bit and bridle tight on this ‘old man’ within?
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.