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If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:25
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a beautiful picture of the fruit of the Spirit being produced in our lives. Like apples on a tree – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control naturally flow from us. It’s such a stirring image that we often stop there. However, if we read on, we see that we have a part to play in bearing fruit. Verses 24-25 tell us that we are to live as people who belong to Christ, crucifying the flesh and keeping in step with the Spirit.
How do I do that? How do I live from my identity as the beloved of God? How do I resist temptations that dehumanize, devalue, and destroy? How do I pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life?
About 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola developed The Examen as a practice to help Christians to do just that. The Examen helps us become more self-aware and aware of the presence of Christ in our daily lives—even during a hectic and demanding workday. Or as L. Roger Owens says in his book Everyday Contemplative,
The more we practice attending to God retrospectively, the better we become at attending to God in the moment.
This daily, prayerful exercise will expose where we are and are not living in step with the Holy Spirit, enable us to more deeply experience the gospel of Jesus, and ultimately close the gaps between our theological beliefs and living moment by moment in His presence.
In the rush of our days, it is easy to overlook so much. Think about the things you saw, felt, and did. Remember that God is even in these details.
Our emotions were created by God and often express what’s inside our hearts. If we are not aware of what is at the root of our emotions, they can become (or remain) disconnected from our identity in Christ, and our idols can gain strength and power.
The Examen is suggested as an evening practice. I’d challenge you to do it at least five out of the next seven days and pay attention to what happens in you and around you.
Think and pray
Are you this intentional on looking back and looking forward on your days?
Heavenly Father, help me to draw near to You as You draw near to me daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Darrel Harvey, Director of the Workmatters Institute, joined the Workmatters team in March of 2019. Before joining the Workmatters team, his vocation had been expressed as a church planter, pastor, mentor, entrepreneur, and as a connector in the Bentonville business community.