Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!



Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Beginning of Lent


Tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Growing up Baptist, I never really understood why some denominations put ashes on their forehead on this particular day or what Lent was. The idea of giving something up for Lent seemed foolish to me. Not because I didn't see value in fasting from something, but it seemed people always decided to give up soda or chocolate and then be eating or drinking. Lent seemed to be more about what was being given up then drawing closer to Jesus. Seeing others "practice" Lent never turned me away from the idea, but there just seemed so little authenticity in what I saw.

As I've growing older church liturgy and old traditions seem to attract and invite me to gaze their way. Over the years, Lent has become less ambiguous and more of a mystery in the same way it is to view the sweetness in the life of one who looks passionately into their Savior's eyes. There's a depth and mystery there that propels you more toward Christ. Where am I at? I've seen this mystery in others and cannot help but be thirsty for that passion in my own life as well. I'm excited, but also nervous. My thoughts at times feel overwhelming, 'What if I forget? What if lose heart or patience in the waiting? What if I can't endure? What if...? What if...? What if...? What if I fail?'

The last 'What if...' plagues me the most. What am I doing this for? Myself? Others? To mark my spiritual checklist? For the glory of God? My honest answer? I don't know. What I hope for is purification. I want to be purified. Not condemned, not striving. Just open and made whole before my Lord. I want to trust Him with my whole heart, to strive for nothing but intimacy with Him. Even striving toward intimacy, I want to "cease striving."

What spurred this? Two weekends ago, I was talking with my pastor's wife, Tricia, at a Jesus Ministry conference at our church. We covered a wide variety of topics in a short amount of time, spanning from struggles with food to reading the Bible. The latter is what I'll focus on more, yet the former is also involved. I was sharing with Tricia lately I've found myself reading the Bible, but not really receiving from it in a relational way from the Lord. What I mean is sometimes I get in the habit of reading my Bible as studying the Bible rather than it being a time of interacting with the Lord. I feel those are two distinct things, although I might not be communicating them well. I told her I was looking forward to working part-time (which I've now started...yeah!) hoping that having more time would change that.

She encouraged me to think of using Lent (I really don't like the word "using" there, but it works) as a time to focus on each of these things: food and Scripture reading in my relationship with the Lord. One thing she encouraged me to do for my Scripture reading was to take a break during Lent from studying the Bible (like you'd study a subject in school) except for what was needed for the ministries I'm in and to meditate on Scripture in the tradition of lectio divina.

Tomorrow I start. There's nothing particularly magical about Ash Wednesday, other than it's 40 days before Easter. But it's a beginning, a place to start.

1 comment:

People Power Granny said...

For Lent this year, I'm going to pursue silence as much as possible. You may want to look at my blog at http://peoplepowergranny.blogspot.com and vote in my poll about lenten fasts.