Ash Wednesday came and went yesterday. Some may wonder why I haven’t written anything about Lent this year. I feel like I’ve been in a season of Lent since this time last year. Racial tensions, politics and even the mask issue revealed many opportunities for recognizing and repenting of sin. The pandemic also mandated giving up things, including clubs, socializing, and eating out, but these may or may not have been sacrifices, since they were forced and some were not a burden to do without.
I do not participate in Lent every year. Sometimes the burden is too much to add when I’m already carrying a load, like last year. Deaths or health can challenge with their own kind of Lent. This year, though, I want to take up the season. I am giving up sugar (for mixed motives) and approaching the six-seven weeks with less structure. My goal is to set aside time each day to listen to the Lord and later record my perception of His message.
This kind of intention unsettles me, because it is not scripted. I cannot force the Holy Spirit to speak, and the myriad tools through which He might communicate add more ambiguity. The Bible reveals His instruction most clearly, but He also speaks through General Revelation (nature), pastors, friends, and podcasts. Sometimes, He whispers inaudibly without any vehicle to carry His words.
For me, listening requires more discipline than working through a set program, because listening lacks a beginning and an end. Faith plays a larger part as well, faith to know how long to wait for Him to speak, faith that He will speak, that He DID speak, that I heard aright, that He will correct me if I misinterpret, and that He may choose not speak. I’m setting out on a Lenten journey carrying a backpack full of doubts that I’ll complete the trek.
Yesterday, Day 1, I listened to a podcast with the theme, “Return with All Your Heart.” The scripture kernel which stood out to me was Joel 2:12a,“Yet even now, declares the LORD, return to Me with all your heart.”
As Jesus often posed questions to His hearers, I believe He posed this question to me. “Have you wandered that you need to return?” I answer, “Not consciously, but I know pockets in my heart that I resist surrendering to You.” After pondering those things held in my fist and attempting to open my hand, I ended with these verses from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Today is Day 2. I wonder what He’ll say? By the time this posts, it will be Day 3. Your Lenten intentions will be different than mine. Please share your treatment of Lent this year. Reading your experiences will inspire me and other readers.