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Monthly Archives: February 2012

A week of Lent or “Wait, what am I doing this for?”

OK, so my very small sacrifices of no soda and coffee are a week old now, and, in truth, it’s not exactly heroic.   Sure, the heavenly aroma of coffee is intoxicating (I’m very sure there will be coffee in the new heavens and earth), and Coke Zero has never sounded so good.  But come on, it’s not like I’m walking on coals or being genuinely deprived. Pity me not.
Which is causing me to ask, “So why am I doing this again?”  I’m pretty clear that it’s not so that God will like me more or consider me somehow more worthy of His blessing.  But if I’m really honest, I have to resist this little internal voice that murmurs, “But at least I’m taking God seriously- probably because I’m just a little more godly…”.  Yuk.

So I’m glad that I’ve been reading in this great little book, Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.  The first section is all about repentance, which is a word that usually makes us immediately uncomfortable.  But how rich it is!  You see, on the one hand we have the truth that all of our sins have been paid for by Jesus- completely forgiven!  The price is paid!  We don’t bring anything to that equation that will assist in being made right with God- that is all of Him.  But on the other hand, an authentic life with God will always lead me to a greater awareness of my own sinfulness and need of His grace.  The more I see God and then see the real me, the more I recognize the vital place of an ongoing surrender to Jesus. My “junk” must continue to be nailed to the Cross as I learn what it means to genuinely abandon myself to God.

So it’s in this way that I’m discovering the value of giving up something small like coffee and soda.  If this tiny sacrifice can make me feel self-righteous (and it has) or want to whine about it (and it has), then the mirror has shown ugliness that I’d otherwise missed or ignored.  Not so that I can just feel more guilty, but so that God’s Spirit might be given more access to my heart.  And then His renovation project can continue there. And I’m glad it is, even a cup or two at a time.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

1st Day of Lent

The truth is, I’m pretty new to this whole Lent thing.  The churches I grew up in didn’t practice or even speak of this season of the church calendar.  Perhaps I’d heard of people who “gave things up” for Lent, but I don’t really know what that meant or why they would do something like that.  Sounded pretty harsh to me.

But I’ve come to understand that I’ve missed something valuable.  I’m seeing this season is an opportunity to enter into an experience-in a very small but real way- with Jesus.  We get to journey with Him in His inexorable path to the Cross.  We draw closer to Him.  Isn’t this the goal?  As Paul said in Philippians 3, “I want to know Christ and the power of the resurrection”  And I’ve often kind of left out the next part- “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.”  Giving up something for Lent- seems like an opportunity to embrace that a bit.

So today, for the first time in my life, I went to an Ash Wednesday Mass.  No, I’m not becoming Catholic.  But there was something about having the ashes placed on my forehead in the shape of the Cross.  Something about being pointed to Jesus while being reminded that, though I’m a child of the King, I’m still made of dust and ashes.  Something about being with others who wanted to be reminded of that, too.

And yes, nudged by a couple of friends, I’m “giving something up” for Lent this year.  For me, it’s coffee and soda, and sadly, that’s a bigger sacrifice than it ought to be.  But I’m praying that it will serve as a regular reminder, a prompting.  That Jesus will be more real.  And that I’ll get to know Him just a little bit better.

Welcome to Lent.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Transitions and Re-planting

Since I’ve set up the “big move” on here, I thought I’d share an update about how it’s going, so here goes:

I’m realizing that we’re all so different in how we process and experience things.  For some, a move can be exhilarating and exciting- new places to check out, new people to meet, things to keep us occupied and engaged.  Others are more tentative- reaching out here and there to try new places, people and experiences, then retreating back to the familiar.

For me, since I’ve begun to (more accurately) see myself as the “stay in one place for a long time” person, this transition has been big.  The best analogy I can come up with is a tree, planted in one place for a long time, roots sunken deep, extended in all directions.  Seasons come and go, but always with intimate familiarity: the sun’s angles at certain times of day, the sounds in each rustling of branches, which roots plow deeper while others slither hump-backed over uneven ground.  Rub your hands along the trunk and sense each familiar texture and crevice. You don’t have to look- you just know.

And then… the long-awaited move comes.

The tree is pulled up, roots and all, and moved to a new place, and it’s a big project.  Lots of digging and excavating.  Some of the roots had to be severed to make the move even feasible.  Plenty of jostling, bumps and unsettledness.  A new hole is dug, fertilizer applied, and the whole mass is plopped into new space.  Overwhelmed, the tree tries to make the best of it, but the trauma is bound to have effects.  A scattering of leaves drop, other branches shrink back protectively.  Long established roots now feel raw, pulpy.  It will take time, this transition, and the tree may not seem its old self for a while.  Indeed, it may assume a different shape altogether.

I’m just a little over six weeks in my “new hole”.  Lots of exciting views from here- literally and figuratively; so much to love and be grateful for.  Yet there’s still much that’s raw and “pulpy”.  Deeply missing good friends and familiar rhythms and spaces.  Disoriented at times.  Pondering what’s ahead while feeling strangely disconnected from both past and future.  It’s good.  It’s hard.  Lonely.  Different.  A daily journey- each one replete with its own adventures and tales.  Mostly I’m grateful for the constancy of my Rock, the One who calls Himself the Vine, and I but a branch clinging to Him.  Some days I feel His warmth and presence, others I simply choose to believe, to trust and remember.

So that’s me, currently.  I wanted to capture this leg of the journey, if only to recall it myself in rear-view.  Perhaps in sharing it, you’ll find something that communicates to you as well.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized