In our journey through life, it can be tempting to think of God as a divine GPS, guiding us turn-by-turn. While such an image may offer comfort, it fails to align with the image of God presented by Ignatian spirituality. St Ignatius provides a more profound image of God and humans not as separate entities, but as co-labourers. This image underscores the essence of collaboration, shared work, and mutual commitment. Instead of following a predefined route, we actively partner with God, deepening our divine connection through joint efforts.
St Ignatius said that, “love consists of a mutual exchange.” This underpins the essence of our relationship with God. There’s a partnership, a mutual giving and receiving, that forms the core of this relationship. This is a far cry from a static, one-way relationship where God dictates and we simply follow.
This concept of a dynamic partnership is further reinforced during the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises. Retreatants are not merely observers of Jesus’s ministry; they are active participants, walking alongside Jesus, working with him in building the kingdom. This is not a passive faith; it’s an active collaboration, a shared labour that brings us into a closer, more intimate relationship with God.
The Principle and Foundation, another crucial element of Ignatian spirituality, emphasises our freedom and our response to God’s invitations. God invites us to participate, but it’s up to us to respond. We have the freedom to choose our path, and this freedom highlights the dynamic nature of our co-labouring with God. It’s not a one-sided command, but a joint venture in which we both invest our time, our efforts, and our love.
Reflect for a moment on how different our experiences would be if we solely relied on a GPS for guidance; each choice made for us, our paths resolute and unchanging. This metaphor captures the essence of trust, an essential aspect of our relationship with God. However, it falls short in portraying the dynamic, active relationship that Ignatian spirituality encourages us to cultivate.
Invitation, Not Dictation
In the Ignatian framework, God is not a divine GPS dictating every move, but a loving companion working side by side with us. We’re invited to journey together, with God’s gentle nudges encouraging us to discern the best paths for our unique circumstances, while still allowing us the final decision.
Trust, though crucial, is not blind. It arises from a mutual relationship rather than mere compliance. But this active trust doesn’t imply self-sufficiency. It encourages discernment, prayer, and dialogue. God doesn’t dictate; God invites. And if we happen to take a detour or make mistakes, God is there with us, ready to co-create something beautiful out of our experience.
To embrace this co-labouring model fully, we’re encouraged to engage in regular prayer, conversation, and discernment. By nurturing a rich inner life, we become more attuned to God’s subtle guidance and our heart’s desires. Our faith journey then becomes an ongoing process, continually evolving as we make decisions in partnership with our Creator.
Let’s move beyond seeing God as a divine GPS. With God as our co-labourer, we can trust the journey, knowing that we are never alone and that the directions we receive are invitations to love, grow, and co-create. We actively participate in the unfolding of God’s desire for the world.
God is not merely our GPS; God is our travel companion, our co-labourer, and our guide. We are, truly, in this together.
- Divine GPS (a post I wrote about this in 2014)
- Friend and Master: Two Images of Divine Companionship
- You Have No Purpose (In the Way that You Think)
Listen to the podcast version of this post…
Written with the assistance of AI (GPT-4).