Not having been raised in a Lenten tradition, it normally requires a great deal of discipline for me to be devoted to the celebration of “the mysteries of Easter”. This year, though, I was longing for the beginning of Lent, excited to spend some significant time during this sacred season pondering God’s sacrificial and redemptive love for us. My cousin PJ (a spiritual director) reminds me that when we make a space for God in our lives he will fill it with himself. We normally fill the spaces in our lives with everything from the mundane to time killers like our phones, aimlessly scrolling away precious time. Lent is all about making space for God.
It is an acquired skill – and I may even go as far as to call it an art – to listen to God. David Benner calls it “Opening to God” in his book by the same title. It is developing an awareness to the ever present God in our lives and listening for his voice throughout the day. For example, here in Tennessee, the trees are starting to blossom and spring is in the air. As soon as I step out the door I am assaulted in every good way by the beauty of new life. It is not a stretch to hear God’s creative voice throughout our days, whether in nature, in music, in worship, in prayer, in others, in his word, and in any of a number of ways. All we need to do is invite him in by making a space and being quiet.
I’m getting a late start this year, even though I was filled with anticipation of the season. I just got home from a 26-day trip that was all-consuming. We spent time with both family and friends who were suffering from loss and grief to broken relationships to out of control children to terminal illness to consuming anxiety to imbalanced lives. It was a blessing to be called on to minister but it was beautifully exhausting. And it put all my expectation of the Lenten season on hold.
I remind myself: it’s not too late.
I say this to myself and to you. Is this lenten season getting by you? If, like me, grew up thinking that Lent meant the Catholics ate fish on Friday, you may wonder – what is the point anyway? Let’s start with this beautiful prayer:
Grant that we may heed the call of your grace
and ready ourselves all the more fervently
to celebrate the mysteries of Easter
as the feast of our redemption
comes closer and closer.
How does one ready oneself? By making a space in each day to listen. Listen to God in his word. Take some time to be still and silent. Pay attention and look for God moments throughout the day. Find a devotional, like the one notated below.
I remind us all: it’s not too late.
God, you wish to reveal to us how rich is the glory of your mystery among the Gentiles. It is Christ among us, our hope of glory! This is the Christ we are proclaiming, admonishing, and instructing everyone in all wisdom, to make everyone perfect in Christ.—*Taken from Col 1:7-28
*Show Me The Way – Daily Lenten Readings by Henri Nouwen