Posts Tagged ‘God’s word

03
Mar
14

why Lent?

Growing up in a Baptist church, I don’t even think Lent was on the radar, at least not on my radar. Christmas and Easter were what we celebrated or at least what I remember anyway. We’d come to church on Easter wearing pastels and singing songs about Jesus being risen from the dead. But Lent? I didn’t even know what Lent meant.

I only started hearing about Lent a dozen or so years ago. We attended a church where people talked about what they were giving up for Lent. At first, I didn’t know what in the world they were talking about. After I learned a little more, Lent became a fun and interesting topic for discussion about what to give up. There was the usual giving up of broccoli or Brussel sprouts or something that you didn’t like or wouldn’t eat anyway. But some more serious Lent challenges, for some of us, were to give up chocolate or sugar or coffee. One year, I made my kids give up something. I used Lent as a bad parenting technique; it didn’t work out.  (Lent in My Belly Button)

I think rituals are important, but for a long time, I failed to realize what the real purpose of Lent was. It became about some kind of willpower, rather than any kind of Jesus significance.

But why give up anything for Lent? What actually is the significance? Why deprive myself for one minute when I don’t really have to? For me, it has become about the waiting, the anticipation of Jesus. I’ve noticed when I have fasted in the past, it’s at that moment when I don’t think I can stand it for one minute longer that that’s the moment when Jesus steps in, and He becomes my strength. All my self-reliance and thinking I have it figured out go out the window. And I lean in hard because I feel like my stomach will eat itself, and it’s at this point that I realize I have nothing in myself. I am physically and spiritually weak, and I really need Jesus. So that’s why I participate in Lent. It makes me realize my utter frailty, my utter lack of patience and self-control, and it makes me realize my need, my absolute dependence on God for food, for life, for everything.

About mid-February I start to think about Lent; I start thinking about what my give-up will be, not just to do something because that’s what you do. But how will I fast in anticipation of Jesus? What will help me see Him clearly and reveal my need for Him the most?

Last year, I cannot even remember what I gave up or even if I did in fact give up anything, but a friend challenged Jeff and me  to read the entire Bible during Lent. So that’s what I did. At first it was a challenge, but then it became something much, much more than that. Not to be overly dramatic, but it was life-changing for me. I felt like I ate His Word, and it became life and breath.  I absolutely could not wait to dig in and read each day, and I would go to bed in anticipation of what I would read and “see” the next day. I couldn’t wait to see how the Holy Spirit revealed Himself and how often He surprised me with His truth and love and hope in crazy kind of places (like Leviticus, and I kind of fell in love with Isaiah).

When I read in Psalm 19 how God’s Word renews our lives, makes the inexperienced wise, makes our hearts glad, makes our eyes light up, is more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey, I can say a resounding, “Yes, Yes, YES!” When I read the Bible like I would any other novel, I feel like I absorb it into the interior parts of my soul, my head, my heart. I feel it in my bones, and  it becomes a part of me.

I read somewhere (the internet) that Lent is 40 days long and used for prayer and fasting in the time before Easter, but the period between Ash Wednesday, which happens to be on Jeff’s birthday this year (March 5), and Easter (April 20) is 46 days long. So I’m excited to once again have the opportunity to read the Bible from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  This sounds daunting and overwhelming, and it is at times. But I believe the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, and I’m excited to not just know more but see Him and hear from Him in ways that I haven’t yet heard. So I’m almost a little giddy and ready to start today, but I wait. The waiting, the anticipation is good.

I’m not necessarily giving up anything for Lent, except maybe reading other books and giving up watching more DVDs than I really need to. But no matter what I do or don’t do for Lent or any other time, the focus must be Christ. (Heb. 12)

Because of the year that I tried to make my kids give up stuff, I decided that every one should choose their own Lent give-up. It just really works better that way. The stirrings of my heart or whatever you want to call them don’t seem to apply to others the same way they do to me, and I’ve come to realize that the Holy Spirit’s not usually talking to other people in the same way that He’s talking to me. And so I don’t get caught up with pushing my own stuff on people. Not anymore. I trust God to lead me, as well as the people around me, in the places that He wants each of us to go. And that makes it so much more exciting to hear all the different ways that God wakes each one of us up to Him. 🙂

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14
Mar
13

Loving Our Lent Challenge

For Lent this year, Jeff and I were challenged to read through the entire Bible. Since October, I had been devouring parts of the New Testament. But read through the whole Bible in 46 days? Is that even possible? Jeff went online to find a Bible reading plan, but the shortest plan the internet has is for 90 days. Even the internet people don’t think it’s possible.

But we took the challenge. Jeff figured out how many pages he needed to read each day to complete his reading and was on his way. I didn’t plan it out quite as much as Jeff, and I also started by reading with the New Testament, so that I wouldn’t get stuck around Numbers and call it quits. This has been a fantastic journey, so far.  God has opened my eyes up to Him in His Word like never before.

In reading the Bible this way, like I would a novel, I feel like I’m gobbling His words and wanting more. Most days, I cannot seem to get enough. In Psalm 81, it says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” I feel like a baby bird with her beak open wide, waiting for her daddy to drop in more. And there’s always more. More than I can possibly get in a lifetime.

But in taking on this challenge, there have been things that I’ve had to get rid of to make a space for reading the Bible in this way; I realized I had to have time to stop and soak up God’s Words. And I found that the things that I gave up don’t really amount to all that much anyway.

But His Word, I cannot do without it, and I now find myself running to it when there’s trouble and thinking about it even when there’s not. God and His Words have become life to me, words to trust in, words to obey. When Satan told Jesus to turn the stones into bread, Jesus answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

In the movie, The Book of Eli, the main character had the only Bible left on Earth. The bad guy, of course, wanted the Bible because of its power and went to extremes to try to get it. For thirty years, Eli spent his days walking West and his nights devouring the Word of God with his fingers. By the end of the movie, the Bible had been destroyed. But blind Eli recited the Bible in its entirety as someone else put those words on paper. The enormity of this still strikes me…the love of those words…God’s Words.

Your words were found, and I ate them.Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart… (Jeremiah 15)




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