I wrote this for my other blog, reversiblejacket.org, last fall and I think it is very appropriate for Lent (or at least, it is right where I am personally). Enjoy.
Sometimes, make that a lot of the time, you don’t get what you want. You can think it is right, good, and pure and still not get it. Heck, you can even believe God has ordained it and it still may not happen.
Growing up charismatic has many advantages, which is why I still self-identify as one, but it also has a few shortcomings. I think this is one. The idea that you can want something good, believe God has given you the green light, and never see it come to fruition. It’s the ultimate crapshoot. How can something God ordained not happen?
It proves yet once again that much of life’s pain comes from missed expectation. You devote your life to God, give him the situation, and see “clear signs” of His blessing only to see it crumble for reasons beyond your control. I have come to the conclusion that this happens for no other reason than sometimes you don’t get what you want.
It’s a terrible lesson to learn, but it really does drive you into the arms of a Father who loves. It forces you to confront how you view God because the very thing you thought He was blessing did not happen. One wonders if God is mad or disappointed, or testing you? You wonder if God really does desire only good things for you? When life squeezes you and your expectations are not met, what you really believe comes out. But when dealt with properly -taking it before the feet of God- it can be part of the sanctification process.
I have no idea if I missed God or if there is some greater lesson to be learned when I don’t get what I want, but I do know that I need Him. I am useless unless He is with me and kisses my soul. Sometimes you don’t get what you want and that is ok. It is ok because we serve a Father who is pure love and He never steps aside. He is always available and wanting to commune with us. So in a very strange way, you always get what you want (or need) if only you have the eyes to see it.
This reality is not a lot of comfort on days like today. But it is enough to cause me to look up to a Father who runs to me even when I don’t know that what I actually want is Him. Christ, help my unbelief.Comments
It’s almost like a broken record: “I am so busy right now.”Millenials wear it like a badge of honor. Almost as if you are not complete or really an adult unless you are insanely busy. As a thirty-something in the dating scene, It is crazy to recount how many dating profiles state up front that they are busy: not to mention the conversations I have had with girls I’ve dated and how schedules have played a huge roll inside the relationship. Busyness has shipwrecked two relationships that I have been in: both because of my busyness and hers. But should it be so? Thomas Merton, the famous monk from Kentucky has this say to say about our culture of business:
The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
Busyness is innate violence according to Merton and I agree. If we are so busy that we cannot properly invest in the lives of those we care about, as well as our own personal life, then we are participating in violent behavior. And that is why Lent is so important. Lent is a season of repentance for participating in that violence as well as a season of creating space for God and others.
As we journey with Christ to the cross, take an inventory of your life and ask if you are participating in the violence of our age by being to busy. In the comments below, talk about your journey.Comments
I am attracted to addicts in recovery. They are usually a bit on the edge and unafraid to say what needs to be said or do what needs to be done. But I’m becoming more and more convinced that what attracts me to addicts is their realization that they are only one bad choice away from destruction. We need more of that type of self-awareness, especially among Christians.
Ash Wednesday promotes that type of self-awareness: it reminds the people of God that everyone of us are on the brink of destruction and desperately need a savior. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.” Recovering addicts have discovered a secret that far to few Christians realize: we are capable of anything. That is why we need Jesus and that is why Ash Wednesday is important. It reminds us that we are mortal sinners. We need to be reminded because only as we are reminded will we deal with our sin.
Sit with that. It is an uncomfortable reality, but a reality that will drive you to cling to Jesus.Comments
“Do-Overs,” “Fresh starts,” and “new years resolutions” are popular ideas in the USA. Who doesn’t want a fresh start or a chance to hit the re-set button? I know I do and in many ways, the church calendar does that for me. Especially Lent. Lent is a season of fasting and repentance that starts with the Ash Wednesday invocation of ashes and the accompanying statement “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.” We are dust and we need God; real bad. The 40 day journey allows us to take a step back from the trajectory of our life and asses where we need to adjust and how we can once again journey with Christ to the Cross, through the tomb and rise again on that glorious Easter morn with Him and His church. In short, Lent (and every church season) allows us to hit the re-set button of our lives.
I especially need that in my life this year; I need to repent and place my entire focus on Christ. This became very evident to me last week when I was struggling through a personal situation and I read the Book of Common Prayer collect for the week:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The calling of God is to live in such a way that the only thing we fear is losing Christ and I was afraid of several things far removed from that. Time for a re-set: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
Two ways that I engage the season of Lent are 1) fasting and 2) creative expression. I limit what my body, soul, and spirit ingest for 40 days and I take the that time to pray or serve those in need as well as making space to visually create what God is teaching me about myself and my relation to Him. What both those practices do is SLOW ME DOWN. Only when we slow down can we hear the still small voice of God whispering that we are His Beloved and in us He is well pleased. Hearing that voice will take us to the cross, but the cross always leads to resurrection! Don’t let Lent pass you by. Hit the re-set button and come to a greater realization “that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
In the comment section, talk about how you are engaging Lent 2014.Comments