Monday, March 2, 2009

What to give up for Lent?

Back when I really, really enjoyed doing biblical research (which is pretty easy to do when you live for a summer on a seminary campus, with one of the best nationally recognized seminary libraries around the corner)  I did some work to discover how the early Christian church treated the season of Lent.

First . . . Lent was a time of preparation, a time for getting ready, for the coming of Easter.  It was a time when believers would engage in critical and intentional spiritual self-examination, to discover and remove those things in ones life that block one from being close to God.

More simply put, Lent was a time to find out what you loved more than  God.

Second . . . Lent was a time for those who had left the church to be reconciled, to be welcomed back into the fold.   Lent was a time for setting and putting things right.

Sounds good to me . . . 

This year, I have finally come to a decision about this season of Lent.  I wanted to have this figured out several weeks ago . . . but the combination of ministry activities and my recent two-months of back pain issues (the cause was that my right knee was out of alignment) led to some emotional and physical burnout.   

Now . . . having spent some good recovery time (what one does when they spend two days "just chilling") I think I have my Lenten plan.  And, I have made certain that my Lenten plans involve the most important element at the central core of Lent.

Personal intentionality.

1) I am going to make an intentional effort to engage in our Lenten Bible readings, and to read and contemplate what Ken writes on his devotional blog.  I intend to focus on the question . . . What is God saying to me today?

2) I am going to make and intentional effort to continue to improve my health.   This means another intentional look at my eating habits . . . and to get back on the walking / hiking trails I loved so much last year.   The key hear . . . is to understand that when I am eating and gaining weight, I am under stress.   I am going to a conference in April where the main speaker is going to address that post traumatic stress affects far more people on a daily basis than was first thought.  I hope it is eye-opening.

3) I am going to intentionally focus on serving someone everyday.  Part of this process is to examine what my motivation is for my desiring to serve some people, but not others.   What is it that makes serving a "heart thing," . . . a way of life? 

Lent . . . for me . . . is a time of critical / intentional self-examination.   Lent is a challenge, very much so.  But Lent is not fun.   But being as ready as I can be for Easter this year is my goal.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

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