I can’t believe we’ve reached the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
It’s been a rich season for me. My reading of Morning Prayer broke down for several weeks, but I found myself engaged in the Lord’s Prayer in the wee hours of the morning all of those days. The Holy Spirit seemed to initiate prayer and, even more graciously, make me aware of the divine work infusing my weakness.
Meanwhile, the Lenten disciplines I planned toward the end of January are holding up well and proving fruitful.
Daily reading has become a joyful rediscovery, as well as a practiced repentance from lazy, sloppy internet browsing. I’m smiling about this, as the 4th Sunday of Lent is meant for refreshment and rejoicing in the midst of the penitential season.
The Scripture guiding this discipline is divine Wisdom’s exultation in Proverbs 8:34, Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. Indeed, one of the books I’ve finished during Lent reminded me that one indicator of Christianity’s universal truth is our ability to engage “non-Christian” ideas and expressions and find Christ at work in them.
I’ve not abandoned the Bible in all this. Despite my spotty attention to the Daily Offices, I’ve kept up my discipline of using Scripture to rebut and replace ungodly thoughts, as inspired by …and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17 ESV).
I’ve been recollecting the imperative form of the Hebrew verb naqah, meaning Cleanse me! or Empty me! as expressed in Psalm 19:12, Who can tell how oft he offendeth /O cleanse thou me from my secret faults (Coverdale version). This word alone has been like a diversion channel when the devil floods me with self-doubt and accusation.
From a friend’s counsel, I am recollecting Numbers 11:14, I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me and Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light to resist some of my most self defeating expectations and judgments.
Finally, I’m doing pretty well with the discipline of doing something out of my comfort zone each day. My wife’s been great about asking me about this each evening. Most of what I’ve done is to answer others’ questions honestly, rather than trying to filter my response through what I think will keep them happy with me. A lot more obedience to Jesus’ instruction: Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil (Matthew 5:37 ESV).
That’s consistent with the Scripture that I use to guide this discipline, I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death (Philippians 3:10 NLT). Death to self and life to the truth – which is always Christ – so that I might walk in new life with him.
How’s Lent going for you?