Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
How do we choose life? Sometimes it isn’t all that clear. There’s so much every day to choose from, and a lot of it looks good. It can be challenging to sort out what among the good is the best. In spiritual direction, I learned that the practice of examen can help as I get in the habit of reviewing my day and noticing what gave me life and what drained or frustrated me. One of the values of this discipline is that over time it also reveals patterns in my hearts’ desires, which helps me discern where God might be leading. We tend to mistrust our desires, but our God-given desires can help point the way to life. “What do you want?” was a frequent question Jesus asked when people came to him. Was it because he didn’t know? Clearly, we are the ones who often don’t know our own hearts. Jesus was helping them verbalize what it was they truly wanted. He can do the same for us if we let him lead us into Life.
After a few weeks of doing the examen daily, I noticed that moments of connecting with my family tended to be my most grateful moments, and my lack of time management, margin and not being fully present to those I say I love were things I was least grateful for. As I pray over this, I might commit to be more intentional about my time with my family, and to take a closer look at the things in my day that fill it up and challenge my serenity. Inviting God into the process can help, as we listen for his voice, practice discernment and pray to be formed in Christ’s image.
Today’s prayer practice: Prayer of Examen
Reflect on the past 24 hours. Write down in a notebook your answers to the things you were most and least grateful for, or the times you felt most and least connected to God. If you practice this even occasionally, you will begin to see patterns and be able to make choices that bring life. Some things to pay attention to might be whether the things that give you life are mostly relational, or about time spent on your own. Are you more impacted by things that move you emotionally or by new ideas? And a big picture question might be how does God want to use you, shape you, grow you to make a difference in your world? You can try just the simple two questions before bed if you don’t have time for more. Take simple notes, so you can look back and see the pattern more easily. Choose life!