Saturday, February 6, 2016
Reflecting on The Best Lent
We all want a Lent that brings us to the foot of the Cross, and then Easter.
It is the how of things that we struggle with, for being fallen, we can turn anything, even a good thing, into something less.
However, being made in God's image, and God wanting us far more than we ever do Him, He loves us. It's an astonishing thing to know in our bones. He loves us. He wants us nearer, always nearer.
So how do we get there?
Last night, after a conference I attended, I met several of these remarkable women at the hotel bar and asked what their best Lenten offering ever was:
One said they'd given up television as a family. The result was a burst in creativity on the part of the kids and she saw them reconnecting. The kicker was her telling us she tried to cheat at one point to catch the news, and the television blew up. We howled.
Another talked about her hardest Lent, when she opted to pray for each person who spoke to her, and discovered how many people she interacted with in a day.
The third discussed choosing to wear her hair in a bun and wear a dress every day all day.
Lent is designed to take us out of our comfort zone and not merely show us our weaknesses, but show us the cure for them; a deeper relationship with Christ, as is only available through detachment from our own proclivity to sin. We know it is God's will and God's way if what we offer brings us closer to God and each other. Each woman's example brought them deeper and deeper in.
I love these stories because the revealed the beauty, diversity and faith of each of the women by their choices. So I'm now facing Ash Wednesday, and wondering, what should I surrender and what should I take up?
Some people say, "Don't give up chocolate." I'd say, don't ONLY give up chocolate. The negative must always be paired with a positive, we pray AND fast. To engage in Lent is to do BOTH AND, to surrender something and take something else on, to peel away some of what keeps us tethered to the world, and cling harder to grace.
So I ask the question again, what are you doing for Lent and what was your best Lent? I'm still sifting through possibilities, but I do have some great ideas if you're feeling stumped: Circa 2012 but still worth considering. There isn't a wrong answer or a perfect answer. There's your answer, which is your response to God's invitation to grow closer.
Prepare yourself to walk into the desert. Expect God to take you at your word.
Let us all go deeper and deeper in.
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