I hope this forum will create a place to grow together and be honest about what God is doing in your heart these next 40 days leading up to Easter. This can be life changing journey if we lean in and do the work of reading, reflecting and sharing in the comments section. Others who are on this journey with us may have walked where you are struggling, or can offer insight, encouragement, prayer and support. Let’s dig in and do this together!
Was it hard to figure out what you are sacrificing for this Lenten season? Please post your “Lenten fast” in the comment section so that we can encourage one another – PLUS it really does make it “real” to put it out there for others to see, read and know. I had to think twice before I posted my struggle with comfort foods, especially given my last few months as they have been full of struggles, sadness & sickness and thus LOTS of comfort foods. Telling it like it is and being honest about what God is asking me to sacrifice, exposes the side of me that I would much rather hide. I am far more comfortable with sharing the shiny, cleaned up version of me, and yet, in honesty and in vulnerability I find others who are on the same path and together we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and say…”me too… I struggle too.”
This is where growth happens, where community comes together and relationships go deeper. It is in our weakness and struggle that we are drawn to one another. So… I am committed to posting from my heart through this season. I have good days, bad days… can’t wait to start the day and oh no its morning days… fat and ugly days, feeling pretty days… times when I feel so close to God and times when He seems to have forgotten me….content and grateful times and moments of ugly jealousy…moment of being the chief among sinners and others where I actually act like a saint…
Life is like that… season and cycles of joy, sorrow, ease and struggle, so let’s be honest and dig deep together. Recently I have been in a season of winter- both literally with all the snow and emotionally with all that has been going on in my life… I have been walking around singing the song “I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is aching, from the work it takes to just keep on breathing… an only you can give me rest.” This has been my theme song of late and I am ready to dive into a season of reflection, repentance and renewal!
What about you? Has it been a tough few months and you are longing for spring, in both the weather and in your heart? Lent is a time for reflection and renewal… and I need Both! When I take time to reflect on God- His love for me, His provision and blessings, my heart is renewed and I can see and feel the beginnings of Spring – hidden deep in the dark soil of the past few months of winter, pressing its way to the light. So I am grateful for this appointed time to turn my eyes to Jesus and not stay in the whirl of my own thoughts, worries and sadness. I am faced with the choice to focus my mind and thoughts on God and not on my circumstances. Not always easy to do… but always an option.
Day 2: Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Moses is giving his final instructions to the people of Israel before they enter the Promised Land. They have been wandering for 40 years for a trip that should have only taken 11 days! Most of the people who walked out of Egypt did not live to enter the Promised Land because of their sinfulness and lack of faith. They were a stubborn, stiff-necked, disobedient, rebellious, unfaithful people, who grumbled and complained, were ungrateful, idolatrous and doubted the goodness of God. (These words can describe me at times!) So God led them to wander for 40 year. He didn’t “let them wander” but led them in their wanderings with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This makes me wonder about the wanderings that God is leading me though and the purpose of them… what am I to learn- where is my doubt, sin, stubbornness, disobedience or idolatry keeping me in the wandering state? What are the choices I am making that are keeping me from enjoying the blessings of God? Can you relate?
What relevance do these words spoken by Moses have in our life today?
Every moment of every day we are making choices… what we think about, set our hope in, worship, trust, depend on, believe… and God says we have the ability to choose life or choose death.
Ultimately, with Christ as our Savior, we have chosen eternal life. Yet, I believe that this verse also has meaning for the “dailyness” of our life? We make choices everyday, some are minor and others are meaningful and can have in impact on our lives both short term and long term. What do you think God means when by “choose life” in a daily and practical way? I think this is more than an overarching statement and we can take something practical for our daily living from this admonition.
Life as a follower of Jesus does have struggles and trials; we are commanded to take up our cross and follow Him. But Life as a follower of Jesus is also one of joy, peace that passes understanding, meaning, purpose and hope. And how we live in the midst of both of these realities comes down to choice.
We have the ability to choose how we live each day, whether we will live fully alive and engaged in an ongoing relationship with God, or to live independent of Him. We can choose what we think about, how we use our time, energy and resources and what we focus on. We can choose our outlook, our mindset, our attitude and our actions. And it seems to me that in these choices we either choose life or death. Life being characterized by growth, joy, gratitude, hope, and death being marked by rebellion, turning away from God, worry, fear and stagnation. We get to choose how we deal with what is going on in our lives. We may not choose our circumstances, but we can choose our attitude about them.
Reflecting back over the struggles I have encountered these past few months, I can honestly say that I did not always choose life as I dealt with them. Sometimes I wallowed, escaped, despaired and ate comfort food! I didn’t lean into God and His comfort. I was rebellious in my sadness and anger. I know the posture of my heart when I was choosing death. I was not productive or pursuing the dreams God has placed in my heart. I was not seeking His comfort and help in time of need. I was not growing and gleaning lessons from the struggles. I was not grateful.
The times when I chose life may have still resulted in eating some chocolate, checking out to movies with a big bowl of popcorn, but it would have been done with a lightness of heart, admitting that I needed a break and some downtime. The posture of my heart was different. It was those times when I focused on bringing my hurt, fears and struggles to God, when I sang the words “I’m tired, I’m worn” as an act of worship. There were profound and poignant moments of being with God in the midst of the hard and finding rest in Him regardless of what I was feeling. It was taking my thoughts captive to Christ, seeking His face, leaning into and relying on His strength to get me through the day. I took action of some sort out of obedience. I had an attitude of gratitude for the blessings and goodness of God. These were good moments of choosing life.
I want to be a woman who chooses life every day! It is a choice… moment by moment, day by day. As we journey through today, be aware of the ways that you choose life or death and if you are willing…please share it with us.
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Psalm 1: 1-2, 3,4, 6, Luke 2:22-25
Prayer of Confession from the Book of Common Prayer
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about ½ hour a day)
Read on Day 2: Matthew 8-12
Please post your thoughts in the comment section.
Please share this post with anyone else who may enjoy journeying with us.