Week One of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises: God’s Unconditional Love for Me.
The Ignatian Spiritual Journey begins with God speaking these words to God’s people:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you:
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters
I will be with you,
and through the rivers
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
Fear. It is the enemy of the spiritual journey and the destroyer of all that God has created us to BE. It changes how I look and experience everything. Fear changes my perspective. It was for freedom that Christ set us free, but when I choose fear, I loose that freedom.
I have become increasingly aware of how fear affects the daily experiences of my life. In particular, it gives rise to judgment. Why judgment? The false ego self lives on the level of constantly evaluating itself against every other ego self it encounters. In order for it to validate its superior existence over another, I must judge the other and put them down in order to lift myself up.
Fear keeps me from being the person God created me to be. Even as I write this, I am wondering how it will be received. Fear holds me back from living the life for which God has created me.
I have heard it said that there is only one fear and it is the fear of death. Once this fear is settled, there really is no other fear. Isaiah speaks metaphorically about the water and the fire, each of which can end in death. But the promise that is here is that even in the journey to death, God promises to be with us.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
FOR YOU ARE WITH ME.
Perfect love casts out fear.
I choose love,
instead of fear
I choose love
in the Lord my God
I choose love
releasing all my fear to You
And I am still,
with my God
So I set out on a journey, the destination I know not. Each day I take the next step in faith, setting aside the fear and embracing the Love offered to me and in which I was created. God again speaking through the prophet Isaiah:
You are precious in My sight and honored,
and I love you.
My prayer for the journey: To experience the spiritual freedom in the Love of God that casts out all fear. Lord, lead me there.