Spring Cleaning {Preparing for Lent}


We had one good dousing of rain over the weekend. A long awaited, much needed downpour for California to quench it’s dried up and thirsty landscape. Then today crept up to about 60 something and by this weekend it will be in the mid 70s. It feels like spring and yet winter hasn’t come.

I wonder a lot about seasons and their purpose and this counting it all joy business. Without the cold and wet of winter the soil isn’t adequately prepared for the growth of spring.  Eventually the lack of water will be enough to dry up roots and prevent buds from blooming to their fullest.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” {James 1:2-4)

James talks about trials of various kinds.  Anything from a bad cold to cancer to a broken marriage to an addiction you can’t seem to stop on your own to the unbearable pain of grieving a death to the uncertainty of the future.  Joy in all of it because any kind of trial has the potential to test your faith or the faith of someone near you.

The trials don’t build our faith or increase our faith. There is no measure of faith that will get us out of our trials either. You aren’t experiencing a trial because you lack faith and you certainly are not still sitting there stuck in it because you don’t have enough.  Faith is simply being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.  What trials do is produce steadfastness which is defined as fixed in direction, unwavering and firmly established.

The more we live, the more opportunity we have for our faith to be fixed in this direction of hope and firmly established in that which we do not see.  The thing about steadfastness according to James is that once you have it, you need to let it have it’s full effect which is apparently a life long process.  This steadfastness the Spirit is cultivating in us sustains us towards the perfection and completion God is working out in us. It’s not us or anything we do that makes us perfect and complete, it’s Jesus and the work He is doing in us.

Spring is a time of cleaning out closets, wiping down old contact paper and getting rid of the things we no longer need. It’s a time to weed and till up the soil to get it ready for planting.

Much like the ground in California, there are parts of my heart that have become hard and cracked.  There is no space to break in and plant something worth growing.

I think God knew what he was doing when he planned the calendar and put Lent exactly where it is.  Three months after the newness of a new year and I’m about ready for a do over.  Thankfully God is the God of new mercies. Every Morning.

Lent is often associated with “giving up” but this year I want to focus on filling up.  I’ve got a little Lent journal ready with some readings prepared and I’m going to focus these next 40 days on Jesus.  The author and perfecter of my faith. The One who is working in me through this steadfastness he is building in me. The One who makes me lack in nothing. The One who completes me.

This church in New Jersey posted something wonderful for those who are looking to give something up for Lent and this little piece by Mark D. Roberts from a few years ago gives a good overview of Lent and how it can make a difference in your relationship with God.

Do you practice Lent?  How so?

Photo Credit: GalleryHeart.com

 

Comments

  1. Laura Cogan says:

    I practice Lent. I like the ebb and flow of the church calendar. I enjoy “entering in” to new ways of relating to my master. I like to begin again, because my life this side of heaven NEEDS to redirect. Often. Mostly in my Lenten practice I deprive myself of something so that my “lack of” reminds me of how much He fills me up.. daily, momentarily, and how greatly I need His filling. This year I am attracted to your idea of asking Him to fill me without the customary deprivation. Because I am feeling that my life is characterized by deprivation right now, I believe that I will see Him more as I focus on how He replaces my ashes with beauty, how He restores what the locusts have eaten away, how He may surprise me with a new thing springing up. Oh, how I want that! Holy Spirit renew my sense of hope, surprise me with unbridled newness!! I praise You that every good and perfect thing comes from You!

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