For our Prayer & Praise devotional this past Wednesday, I shared the following C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. …But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of. …You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
I love this analogy, strangely, I find it both scary and encouraging. As long as we have breath on this earth, God will be growing us. This process will certainly be painful. But it will also be something that brings peace and great fulfillment.
In order to renovate a house, there first must be demolition. It is the same in our lives. Before God can grow or enlarge us, He must first tear down our sinful or incorrect ideologies. And we have to hand God the metaphorical sledgehammer. That’s the scary part.
God will not begin work on our houses uninvited. In order for demolition to begin we have to examine ourselves and invite God into that process. In her book Sacred Rhythms : Arranging Our lives for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton shares a number of ways to do this.
The examen of consciousness is asking questions to see ourselves better. It is done at the end of day or week – considering how God was present, how He prompted us, and how we did (or did not) respond. It is meant for us to see God’s presence in all aspects of our lives.
Once we have seen God more clearly, this leads naturally into an examen of conscience which is a way to see ourselves more clearly. We expand the questions about our day or week, now asking God to bring to our minds “attitudes, actions or moments when we fell short of exhibiting the character of Christ or the fruit of the spirit.” (Barton 101) We do so without defending ourselves or rationalizing our actions, and we leave the judging to God. As we are led, if necessary we simply proceed to a time of confession and ask forgiveness.
These are not easy practices, but they are sure to bring us closer to God. Making the space to enter into quiet, prayerful times such as these leads to growth…and to working with God on building our spiritual houses!
Grace & Peace Friends!
~ Pastor Cindy