I come from non-denominational/Baptist/Methodist stock. So, I didn't know anything about Lent until maybe a couple of years ago. And even then, it was very elementary. The little I knew included that people gave stuff up - like chocolate or meat or Starbucks. I thought that was it. The more I heard of people observing Lent, the more confused I was about it. Lent became more of a diet fad than maybe what it was supposed to be. It became more of simply giving something up. That may be a part. But it is certainly not what is it all about - at least for me it's not. Isn't it bigger than a diet?
This year, I needed Lent. We've been uprooted from our family and roots in Texas to North Carolina. And while we are extremely thankful for being here and the community we now have, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's hard not being to escape to the parents house for a quick weekend trip. Or have them come up for a few years "just because". Now that i'm in school, it's hard because - well - school is stinkin' hard! So, this "season" of our life right now is busy and we are seeking our new rhythm in the Kingdom and just in normal every-day life.
As Lent was approaching this year, I felt a stirring in my heart that I wanted to do it. And more that I needed to do it. On Tuesday, I asked some hard questions of what I wanted at the end of Lent. What was Lent all about for me? I wanted to know what the resurrection really meant. I wanted to know what the dying and death preceding the resurrection meant. I wanted to know the purpose of Lent. Why give up something for the sake of giving up something? I wanted something more.
So, I set out on Tuesday with a plan for how I would observe Lent. A non-denominational/Baptist/Methodist descendent trying to observe a liturgy that was very foreign to these traditions. I decided what I would give up. I decided what I would do when times got hard. I envisioned what I wanted resurrection Sunday to feel like.
Fast forward to today. And I had already failed in one of my fasts. Not fall-on-your-face fail. But fail enough where I knew it. And God knew it. And my heart felt like a failure.
And then I was met with the realization that dying takes time. Death comes in an instant. But dying takes time. So perhaps these 40 days are about dying. It's certainly not about perfection. It's about taking up my cross daily and following hard after Him. I have heard Him say "Seek my face" and I want to respond like the Psalmist, "Yes Lord, your face I will seek". Daily seeking. Daily walking. Daily observing.
One of the readings for this morning included " now my longing meets your love". I think that may be what Lent is about. My longing, my floundering, my attempt at walking, my journeying, my giving-up-for-the-sake-of-Him is met with Love. And not just any Love. A steadfast Love.
I went running this morning, which isn't atypical as I love to run. It was dark and I was praying and thinking a lot so I didn't realize I was looking at the ground in front of me. I only noticed the two feet in front of me until I ran smack-dab into a trash can. I'm glad it was 5:30am, y'all. Embarrassing! I started running again and thought back to what I read 20 minutes earlier - "now my longing meets your love". My longing, my floundering, my attempt at walking, my journeying, my fasting meets His Love. And sometimes it needs to run smack-dab into it so I am completely stopped and stilled. Stopped by His Love. Stilled by His Love. My longing had met His Love. His Steadfast Love.
I made a little Lent tree. It's not elaborate or probably not even very cool. But it's a tree with twigs from my front yard. Every night i'm going to write something I held onto that day to remind me of the dying or resurrection or the walk or simply Jesus. We'll see what is collected on that tree in 39 days. I am excited. I am nervous. But I know I won't be disappointed.
So tonight I wrote my little something on a torn up index card to hang on my tree. It said simply, "My longing meets your steadfast love - smack-dab on". I needed that reminder. And I continue walking. Daily walking and longing after what Lent is all about.
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