Spring is stirring. No, I haven’t lost it; I am in my right mind last time I checked. Nature is nudging and stretching, regrouping and producing behind closed doors for another glorious season. And just as nature is doing all of this behind closed doors so should we.
Lent is our ‘behind closed doors’ time, the time we are nudged to stretch, regroup and align ourselves to God’s plan and will for our lives so we can produce glorious blooms in due season. During Lent we remember that we are dust, and that to dust we will return. We remember that but for God’s mercy abundantly shown to us in Jesus Christ, our future would be ashes. And as we remember and are grateful, how then will we respond? How will we respond to the time of centering and focusing, to the time of repentance and new spiritual disciplines that Lent beckons us to? What practices will we clothe ourselves with, so that we can see God closer, so that we can experience God’s presence more, so that we can hear God better, and so that we can respond to God more fully? Again let us take our annual visit to Laurence Hull Stookey ‘s book “Christ’s time for the Church”. He invites us to ask certain questions during the Lenten reflective process. These questions are provocative. They provoke us to put on Christ, to be more Christ like, to be different, to be salt, to be light, and to be disciples in name, in living and deeds. So here they are:
- What progress am I making in sharing gladly what I have with others, particularly with the stranger and the poor?
- What attitudes do I convey to those who irritate me? And, by my attitude, what am I saying about my role as Christ’s ambassador?
- How can I more effectively and consistently support social programs that help the disadvantaged rather than hurt them?
- In devotional acts of prayer and reading, am I increasing my attention span and discovering new ways of listening rather than of talking? Of giving thanks rather than of complaining?
- Do I seek to uncover and attempt to deal with prejudices in my life and how can I confront them?
- What habits can I develop that allow me to be more responsive to the sick, the distressed, and the bereaved, particularly when their needs emerge suddenly and require immediate attention? Can I plan spaces in my life to allow for such unanticipated opportunities to minister to others?
- Am I, by consistent attendance at worship, a witness to others of the worthiness of the God I follow? Or am I, by my sporadic attendance, suggesting that God is worthy serving some times, but not others?
Answered honestly and reflectively these questions will spur us on into the renewal mode that Paul calls us to; “Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Romans 12: 2. They are like light bulbs designed to shine in our souls, and show us where we need to spring clean, what we need to throw out and what is good to keep. They will transform us from being self- centered to others centered, into being more of the ‘image bearers’ of Christ. So, take heed; and to maximize the spiritual benefits of your Lenten journey why not include a time of fasting. A fruitful journeying to you.