Currently I am working diligently on finishing a book proposal (I’m not giving up) and sadly, haven’t had the much-needed time to connect with you here. This morning I put all work aside to attend a very special 3-hr. prayer retreat focusing on the teachings of Brother Lawrence, “Practicing the Presence of God.”
When I returned home, I revisited my archives hoping to find something to help me start preparing for Holy Week 2014. I’m challenging myself this week to set aside time to reflect and meditate and revisit practicing the presence of God, like Brother Andrew. I’ll do my best to give you tools for your week. Will you join me?
-Taken from the Archives, Lenten Thoughts from 2012.
Lent strips the self bare
A slow steady pace forward
Fresh starts and clean slates
After a very arduous, relationship-challenging, work-laden, and emotionally draining four days, I woke up yesterday morning before dawn. Primarily because my husband had to be at work very early. Usually, his rustling and bustling, lights on, etc. doesn’t bother me. It’s payback really (smile), because I go to bed late. Not terribly late, but later than he does. So I rustle and bustle and turn the bathroom light on while he is trying to go to sleep. It evens out, in a weird “twenty-seven years of marriage” way. Grace makes it work. So, when I couldn’t go back to sleep, I decided, “Get up, woman. Go for that morning walk with Jesus you so desperately need.”
I am so glad I listened to that angel sitting on my shoulder. A morning walk with Jesus was exactly what this weary woman needed:
Listening to the lyrical arias of the morning songbirds.
Stopping to bask in the rays of a rising sun.
Tuning in to the silence.
Leaning towards heaven, hoping for a whisper.
Untying and disentangling from voices that drain.
Embracing the lessons of the dawn.
And then, one vital lesson unfolded right before my eyes.
As I walked through the snow shower of surrounding trees, there it was. That very unlovely fragrance. How on earth can something so stunning, so lovely, and so radiant, emit such an unlovely fragrance? Immediately, I stopped. There was the whisper:
Isn’t this a mere reflection of ourselves?
Adorned to be lovely, on the outside,
yet often emitting the unlovely on the inside?
Quickly, I was re-minded of 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NLT), which reads, “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” This spoke directly to several confrontations I had encountered earlier in the week. My life definitely was a stench to several individuals this week. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: Am I paying attention to my inner life? Making sure my attitude and character is grounded in the grace of God? Do I cast judgment easily and without blinking? Am I really walking in the way Jesus would have me walk?
Now, I know I can’t please everyone. No matter what, I will be a stench to some. I’m not responsible for that. Yet, I am responsible for maintaining the inner life. Making sure I spend time with the Master who will correct and shape me into His image. Dull my sharp tongue. Check me when I want to judge. Grace me to hold my tongue. Empower me to love the unlovely.
As I read from Amy Carmichael’s, “I Come Quietly to Meet You: An Intimate Journey in God’s Presence” (edited by David Hazard), her words, “the air itself, thick with good and evil forces,” really captures the essence of that last week in the life and ministry of Jesus:
Quiet time. The term is vital, descriptive of the very manner
in which we receive an in-flooding
of the Lord’s life….To those entangled in the ways
I have described, there will always
come a need to exercise the special energy that
comes from a life lived in close union with the Lord.
It may be a trial, from which our flesh shrinks
in dismay. We may sense a coming conflict-the air itself,
thick with good and evil forces, wrestling, and the evil
so terribly strong. And yet we feel bound by invisible cords,
and we ask, ‘Why do I feel so weighted down, so hindered?’
In such a moment, we may call upon the God of fire to
burn our bonds and set us free to fight the fight,
to make us strong to stand, peaceful and strong,
in heavenly place with Christ Jesus.”
Ahhh. Powerful words for our deliberate, intentional Lenten walk towards the aria of Easter. This is longer, I know, than usual, but I felt so necessary. I wanted this Lenten season to make a real difference in my Christian walk. I pray it has helped you. After listening to today’s FRESH WORD VLOG, take a few moments to create your own LENTEN HAIKU (5 syllable, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). Please share with all of us!