lenten journeys: learning to breathe

Today is the first day of Lent, and as usual, I'm a little reflective. This is the beginning of a long season. 40 days (47 if you count Sundays) until we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus - one of the absolute best parts of the amazing Story we live in. I am looking forward to Holy Week! But between now and then.... 47 days.

Julie wrote a beautiful post this week about Lent and her journey with the practice of "giving something up" for Lent. Giving something up is, as she says, about sacrifice - but you're not supposed to do it just for the sake of doing it. The point is to allow the discipline of sacrificing something to be a tool in God's hands, to allow Him to transform you. It was a timely reminder as I begin my own Lenten journey: I am not giving up coffee and junk food and all the other various and sundry things I feel led to cut out of my diet just for the sake of doing it - nor even for the sake of becoming more healthy, tho that will likely happen. I am giving them up because the very act of doing so will teach me discipline and self-control and point me to Jesus, and in His presence, I will be changed for the better. I will become more of the person He means me to be. I will learn some things along this stretch of the road that, while it's possible I could learn elsewhere, I am choosing to learn here.

Lent often feels a little desert-like. I had a dream the other night, and in it was this vast desert-scape: mesas painted glorious shades of reds and browns and khakis, and tufts of dying grass. It was beautiful and barren. And I heard Him say, "I am the one who speaks life to the desert." And then I sensed, rather than saw, that it was all about to change. The desert was about to become a lush valley, full of trees in bloom and rushing streams. It was just about to happen...

And I believe this is part of what my journey this Lenten season will be - watching God speak life into me. It begins, I discovered this morning, with learning to breathe (again). Breathing out my contrition. Breathing in His mercy. Breathing out my frustration with how packed my schedule is right now. Breathing in His ability to walk with me through it and lead me to still waters, even in the midst of it all. Breathing out my whacked perspectives. Breathing in His wisdom. And sometimes - simply sitting still in the middle of all the chaos for 20 seconds and remembering to breathe. God once hovered over the chaos of the deep - and spoke life into it. So I pray with the words of this hymn:

Hover oe'r me, Holy Spirit,
Bathe my trembling heart and brow;
Fill me with Thy Hallowed Presence
Come, oh, come and fill me now.

Fill me now, fill me now,
Holy Spirit, fill me now.
Fill me with Thy Hallowed Presence,
Come, oh, come, and fill me now.

- Elwood H. Stokes, 1879
(c. Public Domain)

Come, oh, come, and fill me now. Amen.

*sidenote: courtesy of The Upper Room and The Uncluttered Heart, I found The Awkward Season this morning. I'll be using this as my devotional for Lent this year, if anyone wants to join me. (some of my thoughts here were sparked by her post this morning.)

1 comment:

Cathy_H said...

Love the connection to breathing. Makes it so very personal.