Today is the first day of Lent. I have tried hard to spend time with God today, but the world keeps getting in my way. Many class assignments and tests all have become due at the same time. Last night I was studying until 4:30 a.m. and up again today at 8:30, rushing back to campus for a day full of classes, meetings, and study. I’ve got a very bad cold in my head. And, to top it all off, I had a mandatory meeting to attend tonight that prevented me from attending the Lenten service at my church.
I am happy for the reason behind the meeting: I’m being inducted into the mathematical honor society at the university. I’ve been looking forward to getting into the group for a long time. The meeting tonight was fun. We had pizza. One of our professors gave an entertaining and informative talk. I can’t help but think, though, that I should have been at my church, worshipping with my family. As I pulled into my driveway tonight, I thought to myself I need to spend some time with God tonight – just He and I.
I love my time with God. I close my eyes and reach out to Him, sometimes in thought, sometimes in whispers, always in a mental posture of supplication. Some people say they feel that their closest relationship with God is as a friend; they speak to Him as they would to a best friend. I can’t speak for others, but I find that my respect for the God’s power is too great to be casually conversational with Him. I do sometimes ask Jesus to “get my back” for me when I feel the need for protection. He always does – without fail, He eases my fears, calms my nerves, quells my anxiety. I approach Him though, knowing that Jesus is God is Jesus is the Holy Spirit indwelling my material life. I know that His power is incomprehensible to me, and yet that He loves me as His own. And, I do love my time with Him.
I am writing this having just arrived home, still anticipating going into a quiet room, closing the door to the world, and curling up in my Father’s embrace. But, I feel as though, by writing this to all of you, I am already worshipping Him, already engaging with Him, drawing near to Him. Part of loving Him is loving you, His children, enough to really desire to connect with you in praise of our Father. My prayer for you right now is that you find some time of your own tonight to feel the Father’s comforting, peaceful, satisfying embrace. And, that brings me back to Lent.
I was sharing with my boyfriend last night that I did not know what to give up for Lent. I wanted something sacrificial, but not so sacrificial that I deprive myself of something necessary to keep going emotionally and physically during a semester where I am juggling seven classes, teaching, family, and church. He suggested something that I thought would be an ideal walk with Jesus during this Lenten season. Rather than give up something physical that I enjoy like coffee, chocolate, or snacks, he suggested that I give of myself. I can sacrifice my own moments of isolation during which I just want to be left alone and instead reach out to others.
I practiced that today. During times when I would rather have looked down at the ground in front of me, I looked up and made eye contact with people I encountered on campus. I looked right into their eyes, trying to picture them, looking out at me, wanting just to be left alone, and I smiled at them. I spoke to people. When I entered a classroom, instead of just taking my seat in silence and preparing my notebook for the lecture, I asked the people around me how their day was going. I even told one young man that he shouldn’t feel bad about doing poorly on a test he had just taken – that he is a child of God, a miracle of life, and that test was just a drop in his long life.
It felt good, sacrificing my own needs for the unspoken needs of others. I felt as though I was more “in tune” with God’s will. I think I will spend this Lenten season studying about it to discover the church doctrine involved and the reasons why we have traditions and activities in place at our churches for this season. I’ll be sharing those discoveries with you as we all journey through a spiritual time of growing in Christ over the next six weeks.