The convergence of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day gave me pause. Who wants to be caught with ashes on their forehead and chocolate smudges on their mouth? But then, such extremes too often mark this journey of faith. I often find myself swinging between faithful and flippant, caring and careless.
In the weeks before Lent, I wrestled with what to give up.
Such a silly struggle.
Is not the season of Lent more than this?
Steve Macchia in his post from Leadership Transformations informed my limited notion of Lent.
“Lent doesn’t have to be about giving something up…it can also be a season of focused intentionality. Lent is a gift for all who follow Jesus; an annual audit for the soul, a 40 day window of refreshment for the heart.”
Our Lenten Ladies group’s reading, Preparing for Easter, selections from the writings of C.S. Lewis. In an excerpt from “Counting the Cost” in Mere Christianity, Lewis writes, ” God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”
God’s standards challenge my low bar expectations.
That’s cause to pause, to lean in, listen and learn during Lent.
Where am I stuck, comfortable with baby steps, resistant to learning and change?
Time for an “annual audit for the soul.”
God wasn’t just speaking to Peter, James and John when he said, “This is my beloved Son… Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5 NLT)
Easier to give up chocolate than a chunk of time to be still.
Lent’s for listening and learning God’s heart and purpose for me, for you.
Lewis continues, “To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.”
Lord, have mercy on this balky sheep.
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A thankful OUCH !
I often feel “too soon old, too late smart.”
Jan: I don’t know if you have seen the photo from the Valentine’s Day / Ash Wednesday school shooting where a mother is hugging her daughter. The mother has ashes on her forehead.
No I haven’t seen the photo. Touching image among another horrific tragedy.
On point. No sense emptying unless we are prepared to be filled – which often is where the pain is.
Thanks for your continuing insights on how to live on this side of glory.
I feel more needy than insightful , Dale, but always appreciate the encouragement of a fellow struggler and long-time friend.
So spoke to my busy heart Jan…. I think chocolate is really, really, REALLY hard to give up…. but you’re right, it is easier than giving up a chunk of time to be still. Lord have mercy. So thankful He does! Moving forward in this Lenten season, with His help I want to carve out deliberate “chunks” to “be still”. Thank you for the encouragement! <3
Diversionary tactics abound in our culture to thwart our deepest needs in favor of satisfying our smallest wants. Thanks for your encouragement, Wendy.