One week ago, believers across the world (of all faiths) celebrated Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. For me, the season of Lent is a fairly new concept. Last year was the first year that I participated in Lent. I gave up Facebook, which at the time I thought was impossible, but I made it without caving and spent those Facebook free days focusing on different areas of my life.
As Lent approached this year, my thoughts surrounding this season were different than last year. Now that I reflect back, on some level, giving up Facebook seemed to be more about me. As if I was saying, "World, look at me. I am giving up Facebook. Praise me!" This year (with help from a supportive Small Group) I truly learned what the purpose of the season of Lent truly is. I realized that giving up something that makes me look good in the eyes of others is not the purpose. The purpose is to take this special time to take away the distractions of life, bad habits or anything that is taking away from deepening my relationship with God. Don't get me wrong, giving up Facebook last year gave me more time to spend on myself and my relationship with God. The fall was in my purpose for choosing what I gave up. I wanted to do some that others would see as hard or that was "better" than what other people were giving up.
As our Ash Wednesday Small Group gathering grew closer, I was stumped on whether or not I was being called to participate in Lent this year and if so, how was God calling me to grow during this time. After spending much of Ash Wednesday in reflection on this question, I felt that God spoke to me and informed me where I was being distracted from Him and challenged me to take the season of Lent to truly focus on activities, books, music, conversations and time that are truly devoted to Him. One thing that I have noticed myself doing over the past week is listening to Christian music all day (whether I am in the car on the way to work, at home piddling around the house or at work at my computer). I recently heard a new song by the Sidewalk Prophets called "Live Like That" which, to me, is my foundation for this lenten season. Here are my favorite lines of the song:
I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say & do
Points to You
If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Never holding back
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You
Even though it has only been a week focusing on the call that God put on my heart during this season, I truly feel so much closer to God and connected to Him in ways that I have been longing for the last couple of months.
It's amazing how God's plan for each of us works. I am privileged to be able to take a group of students on a service to San Diego in a few days (something that I have been wanting to do for a long time). I feel that God is giving me opportunities in this Lenten season to "practice" this Lenten promise that He put upon my heart. I get this amazing opportunity to serve others, spend time in sunny California with amazing students and spend time in conversation with God (time away from the office is always helpful for me to reconnect with my passions, values and Him). I feel that God has challenged me on this trip to be truly there and engaged so that I can truly listen to His voice. In a sense, saying, "I am giving you this time away. Don't fill it with technology. Disconnect and quite yourself; listen to my voice." Given this, I will be giving up technology during the duration of this experience including Facebook, email, People (which I check daily for the latest celebrity gossip), Pinterest, and of course limiting my usage of my I-phone (besides the occasional check in back here in Colorado to let everyone know we are ok). Of course I will take tons of pictures and will journal so that I can update anyone who is interested in my travels and the work our group will be doing in San Diego upon my integration back into life here in Colorado.
This time of Lent proves to be a time that God is working on my heart. I am truly humbled each and everyday for God's unconditional love for each of us individually. He has a special interest in each and every one of us and I know that for many, He has put a special call on hearts during this Lenten time. For me, it's about Him. How is my life a reflection of Him? These are the questions that I have been asking myself over this past week, with each activity or action (as the song suggests), "Is what I am doing or what I am saying pointing to God?" and "When they see me, do they see You?"
God is challenging me during this time to change. To change my daily life, my actions, my thoughts so that they are pointing to Him, so that people are seeing Him through me. Making sure that I, like we all are created to be, am being a light to the world. This is a huge challenge that God has put on my heart during this time of Lent but I want to "Live Like That". Don't you?