What kind of a vacation packer are you? Like this picture below?
Or are you more like this?
In the first picture, the instinct is that we need it all. Don’t leave anything behind! In the second, the belief is that think through it all, organize what you need and don’t need, and carefully bring along for the journey those things that are essential while leaving behind what will hold you back.
This is a good metaphor for the second stage in the spiritual journey. It’s called “purgation” by the book which to mean sounds a little intimidating. Boiled down, the idea is that we carefully assess who we are and notice those places that are unlike Christ. Where we see blatant sins, we work to get rid of them. We realize they don’t fit. And as we work on this, we’ll start to notice more subtle sins too that we maybe just accepted before (e.g. anger, pride, selfishness). We start working on those as well. And as God starts to open up our lives, it’s like a whole new horizon opens us. We realize we’ve been packing so much with us that is not helpful to us. Thinks like resentments, grudges, shame, false humility, fears, things that maybe never seemed negative or some people would even twist into positives but they don’t really fit who we want to be. And as we grab a hold of spiritual disciplines (more prayer, meditation, Scripture, fasting, etc) God helps us deal with them. They won’t disappear, but God can work on them in this life because they’re holding us back.
As he says in Galatians 5 right before the fruit of the spirit- “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So maybe it is time to purge in a healthy way. What have you been packing that God is showing you doesn’t need to come along for this exciting journey!
Hope Lutheran Church & School