Panic jolts up my scalp. Where am I?
I drove this a route several times before, from my university to Fort Hood to see my fiancé. I am somewhere near the halfway point based on time, but at this moment, I cannot find my bearings. Did I pass the turn, or does it still lay in front of me? Should I turn back, or keep going?
Monotonous miles of barbed wire fences and scraggly oaks line the road with no landmark in sight. It is 1981. I have no cell phone or GPS navigation. I travel a squiggly black line on a huge paper map without gas stations or homes along the way. My approaching marriage and the last semesters of school hijack my thoughts, and I drove mechanically without paying attention. Now, I am lost on a two lane rural road with darkness descending.
Our brains cannot continuously monitor every stimuli, so they sift out repeated, unthreatening situations, such as the unchanging landscape through which I passed. This weeding of stimulus frees our minds to concentrate on other things. We multi-task all the time while cooking, picking up kids or sorting email. My thoughts also divide during times with God, especially when approaching Him in a routine.
Lent breaks the rut. It captures my mind to reexamine the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, so that I don’t mindlessly pass by those events. Lent re-establishes my bearings, so I don’t get lost in mundane worship or in doubt.
To rouse myself from repetition and wake myself to the Gospel, I enter Lent, a forty day preparation for Easter. The forty day period comes from several references to the number “forty” in the scripture, prominently Jesus’ forty days in the desert, where the Spirit of God led Him to be tested. Jesus fasted and prayed, seeking His heavenly father before He began His public ministry. If Jesus needed this time of focus, surely I need a similar time to seek God with concentration.
People approach Lent using many different formats. A search on the internet today produces several helps for structuring the season, but a few years ago, I could find little about keeping Lent. I prayed for direction and felt the Spirit leading me to write a Lenten devotional and Bible Study. Links to them are on my About Page.
This year, though, I’m following a new plan which focuses on a theme per week. The themes reflect traditional aspects of Lent, such as humbling myself, denying myself, identifying and mourning sin, forgiving others, hungering for God, and applying the Gospel to life. Lent is a cleansing time, a time to let go, to purge, to wash, and to renew.
I invite you to journey with me. The trip may at times seem difficult, other times monotonous, but beauty borders the road too. At the end, the joy of seeing our Bridegroom is all the sweeter, and we are prepared for His embrace.
If you choose to observe Lent and want to join my journey as your method, I will post blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning Feb 21 through the end of March. These blogs will give guidance through the season, which ends Easter Sunday.