Friday, February 15, 2013

To Live and Love Lent

Right now we are in the first week of the season of Lent. These 40 days of fasting, contemplation, and self-denial are always the most formational days of the year for me. I already feel God working in this year's season and am expectant of great things. My church has allowed me to write a Lenten reflection for each day of the season, which you can see here. Fasting and prayer and supplication to God mark the life of a penitent, trusting believer, but there is another quality of the faithful man which I lack and hope to acquire over the next 40 days.

Mindfulness.

Living with a mind full of the moment in which I find myself. I have a hard time being completely present in any moment. Call it ADD, call it 2013, call it the curse of the post-modern American life, but I am a million places at once and can't focus long enough to hear God.

I am struck by the account of the burning bush. Moses didn't take off his sandals because the ground all-the-sudden became holy, he took them off because he just realized it had been holy all along. How many times did Moses walk pass the bush before he saw it burning?

How many burning bushes have I walked past?

St. Anthony found God in the desert. I've done that too. The most spiritually significant week of my life was probably a week I spent in the deserts of west Texas fasting and praying. I felt God all around me and became upset with myself for not feeling Him that way all the time. Too often, I busy myself and blow right past Him. It's funny how good it feels to have an experience with God and how quickly I forget it and move on to the next thing.

God is always with me. No fact is more assured through Scripture and personal experience. God doesn't promise to constantly give us gifts, but He does promise to give us Himself. In Lent we remove things from our life to better realize the amazing gift his presence is. As Dallas Willard says, "Our contentment lies not in his presents but in the presence of the One whose presents they are." Or, as Thomas a Kempis wrote, "A wise lover regards not so much the gift of him who loves, as the love of him who gives. He esteems affection rather than valuables, and sets all gifts below the Beloved. A noble-minded lover rests not in the gift, but in Me above every gift."

I wish I didn't have to starve myself or change my life to experience the God who never leaves me, but that seems to be the case. God is always around me, and I have to remove my own walls to see Him. Learning to love Lent is learning to love the constant assurance of Immanuel, God-with-us. It is to cast aside the false reality of this material world and set our eyes on Jesus, the savior and lover of the world. 

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.