Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a different sort of Lent

Growing up, my Catholic friends talked about mysterious things like “meatless Fridays” and having to “give something up” for Lent.  At the little Baptist church I attended, we did not observe Lent, and Easter for me was much more about baskets and eggs and candies than it was about Jesus, the cross, and the glorious resurrection.

Over the years, I have come to understand the value of this special set-apart time before the celebration of Easter and I have enjoyed observing Lent as part of my own spiritual growth.  This year, as Ash Wednesday approached, I thought about what I might give up for Lent.  Yet unexpectedly, something else entirely kept coming to mind, the verse Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

At the beginning of the year, when my blog friends were choosing words for 2013, I did not immediately join in.  There was not a word that seemed to rise above the others as being important for this year.  Then one day I realized that I was hearing Psalm 37:4 everywhere, at church, on the radio, in my devotional reading, and it seemed to hitch itself to my heart, urging me to dig deep into its meaning, to know and experience its truth.   

I wondered, could this verse be the focus of my Lenten observation?  How does one pursue delighting in the Lord? 

I searched the dictionary for the definition of delight.  It is a high degree of gratification: JOY; also: extreme satisfaction: something that gives great pleasure.

Delight is sensory.  I delight in what I can see, smell, taste, feel, hear: my husband and my children, family and friends, hot coffee in the morning, exercise, laughter, reading, being outdoors, cooking, small group bible study, gardening, hugs, music, rain.

As I thought more about delighting in the Lord, scenes from scripture flashed through my mind: Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, hearing His voice, looking into His eyes, and being in his physical presence.  Or the woman who enters Simon’s house and pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet, washing them with the precious liquid from the jar and with her tears, wiping His feet with her hair.

These images call to mind a phrase Oswald Chambers, my favorite devotional writer, uses which I love: “broken bread and poured out wine”; it means to give it all, hold nothing back.  We do not delight in something half way; delight is all or nothing .

God has planted this seed of delighting in my heart, and he is continuing to water and grow it during Lent.  This year, my observation of Lent is about continuing to follow Him into what He is already doing in my life, where He is already leading me.  He is teaching me that my heart desires are satisfied perfectly and joyfully as I delight in Him and as I pour myself out into the work He has for me.

In this season, I am continuing to respond to the God-sized dream of writing my story, which is requiring of me the sacrifice and discipline I traditionally equate with this time before Easter. 

It all came together this morning as I opened up “The Do What You Can Plan” this to continue reading and journaling through it.  On Day 8, Holley reminds us that as we pursue these dreams God has placed within us, we need to stop along the way and place markers of celebration and remembrance.  She asks, “What brings you joy? How do you celebrate?”

And so I go back to the definition of delight: a high degree of gratification: JOY; also: extreme satisfaction: something that gives great pleasure.

It is a rainy, cold day today.  As I drove home from the gym this morning, the mountains surrounding our city were clothed in glittering white and ringed with cottony clouds.  What a perfect day for snuggling up with my girls on the couch and reading aloud a good story, perhaps baking a batch of my husband’s favorite cookies.  For today, right now, that sounds simply delightful. 

I am excited to be linking up for the first time over at Jennifer Duke Lee's for #TellHisStory.

This post is also day 8 of my series on Holley Gerth's ebook:

You can click on the graphic above to download your own copy.

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