Here is what I love and hate about Lent: it’s long.
Okay, maybe 40 days isn’t l-o-n-g, but understandably, Lent has a different feel than other parts of the Liturgical year. It is long enough for my good intentions on Ash Wednesday to be lived out, not for a day, but for a season. A season in which real life enters with her good news, annoying neighbors, sunny days, and cloudy skies. A season in which the doctor may have disappointing news, the lease was extended, or you haven’t followed through on something. A season that allows us to examine our attachments through fasting and other Lenten activities.
At the beginning of Lent we shared a resource created by Lane Arnold for you to use on a weekly basis throughout Lent. If you’re just hearing about it now, or maybe you meant to be using it, but you haven’t, it’s not too late. You can still download it today. I’ve been using it on Sunday mornings, but there is nothing special about Sunday.
Maybe for you, Wednesday works better. I smiled as I listened to this message from my niece one Wednesday, “I wanted to let you know I did that Lent questionnaire thing as part of my quiet time today, and it was very, very good. Very thought provoking. I’m going to print out the questions and send it to several friends because I think it was valuable.”
I love that she called it a “Lent questionnaire thing.” That’s how we roll, all of us, right? Instead of getting hung up over exactly what a resource is— is it journal prompts? inventory? a questionnaire?—ultimately the real question is: Will it help me attach more to Christ and less to things that crumble when I place too much weight on them?
Here are the questions:
—Where has food, social media, my reactions, or a false belief become more a comfort than God is a comfort? What’s that about for me?
—What’s that antsy sensation about–a desire to be instantly satisfied? How does that reveal an unwillingness to wait, to hold on a bit longer?
—How does a scarcity mindset nibble away at my heart? Where am I trying to ensure I’ll have enough? Digging deeper, where does God want to come & heal this scarcity belief system?
—How am I lacking trust when grabbing for more by overindulging, just in case there’s not quite enough?
—What cravings gnaw at me? What is beneath those cravings?
—Where do I think God is not going to show up for me? How am I controlling the scene, instead of waiting in surrender for His timing?
—What kind, firm, healing words does God say to these broken places where I struggle?
—When your eyes lock with Jesus’ eyes, what is expressed?
And here they are in a beautiful PDF you can print out and tuck in your journal or Bible:
Lent is long enough to allow space to walk with Jesus towards the cross and examine where we might be more attached to in the here and now to something other than Christ. Maybe it’s social media, or lock downs, or visas, or something related to your kids, or wondering when that person will learn that lesson so they will be less annoying. All good things to consider, but not good to attach the most foundational parts of yourself to. When I look at this picture, I ask myself: “Amy, what are you attached to? Loop after loop attached to?”
Most days my answer is “Jesus and _______________.” Jesus and this annoying co-board member who I believe shouldn’t be in the position he’s in. Jesus and this great project I’m working on! Jesus and this outreach opportunity. Lent is a season that invites us to look at ourselves in relationship to God. Lent invites us with Christ’s help, to loosen our grip on that which cannot deliver and hold more tightly to the One who can.
Sometimes you can be so busy doing things for Christ, you can forget to be with him. It’s easy to do, we’ve all been there. That’s why we have Soul Tending Tuesday to remind us to put the ultimate oxygen mask on and breathe deeply from the source of all life.
Today, if you haven’t, print off the Lent questionnaire thing and then spend time with God reflecting on the eight questions. We’ve still got a few more weeks left of Lent, so we’re just checking in and wonder how you’re doing this Lent?
In the What and How of Lament Workshop you will cover:
—Where lament occurs
—The general pattern and structures of lament in the Bible
—Themes and questions of lament Psalms
—Why you need to lament
—How to lament using Psalms 42 and 43 (this part could be a mini- or halfday retreat)
—Guidelines for writing a lament
Access this workshop here.