One of the reasons why I love to practice Lent is I need to surrender my iniquities in order to make more space for God. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of your own headspace, to let go of your relentless determination to achieve your goals, or perhaps it’s the fear of failure that drives your motivation. In my case it’s a bit of both and this week God called me on it.
I confess that I’ve been going through a period of discouragement and frustration. I feel that I wasn’t getting anywhere especially with the promotion of my book as I kept trying to network. I kept engaging but nothing was happening, no doors were opening wide. However, I was motivated by the wrong thing. I was more concerned about the financial aspect rather than the ministry aspect. All I could think about was paying off what I owe, my credit line. In some respect I was motivated by fear and desperation. The more I tried to network, the more discouraged I got. I didn’t know how to get out of that mentality until God told me to surrender the book, my baby.
For me the first week of Lent was all about repentance in asking God to change my mindset and to forgive me for my self-centeredness. Basically, I just needed to get over myself. So this past week I’ve been able to give my book away to a few people for the right reasons as a vessel for God to minister to them.
By relinquishing my own criteria as well as fear, I am finally obeying God and trusting Him to pave the way. I feel a heaviness lifting up and a different kind of hunger stirring in me. It’s not about me, it’s about you Jesus.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm: 51: 10-12 NIV
For each Lenten season I try to come up with a practice or activity that will awaken my consciousness and remind me to be mindful of the Holy Spirit. One year I decided to make an effort to turn my palms right side up and unclench my hands. I did this daily to demonstrate to God that I was present and available, centred on him and open to his will.
To the average person this might be a simple task that probably takes little thought and minimal concentration. In my case, since I have Cerebral Palsy, I actually need to concentrate to get my hands right side up and wait for my fingers to unbend. This task could take a few tries but eventually my brain sends the message to the right body part.
Unclenching my hands during Lent had a profound effect on me. I felt vulnerable, somewhat exposed and less comfortable in my body movements. It was uncomfortable in the moment but also so freeing. In a way I was letting go of my desire to be in control – to be independent. This allowed God to be present and more of a partner.
The second profound revelation for me was how reserved my spirit had become. Living on a tight budget has made me frugal with spending. I look for ways to save, find the cheapest price or wait for a sale. I’m in the mindset of being cautious, deciding what I need and what can wait. From a financial perspective this is necessary and wise. However through my Lenten practice I realized my mindset of frugality had transcended in other areas of my life especially my faith.
In the beginning I was so distraught by this realization but also so appreciative of the awakening and the opportunity to change and redirect my mindset. Even though I still need to be frugal financially, my faith and love for God is free and unrestricted.
I will continue to unclench my hands during Lent and even afterwards not expecting anything but allowing God the opportunity to take my hands anytime he wishes to.
…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9,10
Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for the practice of Lent, a tradition that I savour every year. For me it’s like an escape from the daily grind of life – a time to be less self-absorbed and put your Holy Spirit more in the driver’s seat. As you are aware every year I think of a practice that will help me be more open and conscientious of listening to your voice. I thank you for accepting my small gesture and masterfully revealing your wisdom and insight in ways that are so impactful to my mind and heart. May I keep reminding myself that you are my co-pilot in life and whenever you’re in the driver’s seat allow me to be as gracious as you are. Although the journey may be turbulent at times, you oh Lord, take me to the required destination always arriving at the right time.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Dear Father in Heaven,
This past week has been somewhat physically challenging with the chronic muscle pain in my arm and the muscle tightness in my upper back. Although the discomfort is tolerable I’m becoming a bit weary. However the timing of all this seems rather fitting as I tried to imagine what Jesus went through.
In no way am I comparing, but it has made me more empathetic trying to imagine all the physical and emotional realities that occurred. I can’t imagine what it’s like to anticipate your execution. I can’t imagine foretelling and then being betrayed by a disciple who is a brother to you. I can’t imagine the agony of being persecuted, stoned and nailed to a cross. I can’t imagine having the foresight and the grace in being obedient to our heavenly Father, for the sake of humanity, to give a chance of eternal life and a life of unconditional love and grace.
The reality is hard to picture. We can read about your story, watch movies, interpret the story, listen to people speak and try to disseminate bits of wisdom and insight that help make your story more tangible.
The truth is that I will always grapple with remanence of your story. I think that the beauty of your story is too much for the human mind to completely digest. It requires faith and belief that it’s okay to not comprehensively know but to accept without a doubt that it’s true.
In your Holy Name