We are heading into the season of Lent, for some of us the journey begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Here at Holy School (Seminary) I have heard people ask things like ‘do we have to do this? Does the bible tell us we must? Is it not just a Catholic tradition? Do Methodists believe in lent? It’s as if those ‘rules’ should be our guiding principles … ‘do we have to, is it mandated?’
I remember asking myself those same questions not so very long ago – ‘good grief Jesus, I gave up so much for you already, you mean I have to give up more?’ But Lent has now become for me an opportunity, not a rule, not something I have to do but something I choose to do. And why do I choose to do it? So that I can become more mindful, so that I can allow God an opportunity to work within me, so that I can replace whatever I choose to forgo with something that is more life giving … Jesus used the 40 days to go and be by himself in order to prepare for his ministry, in order for him to be strengthened by God so he could be ready for the journey ahead.
I do lent, because I want my faith to grow, I do lent because I want to make room to hear God, I do lent so that I too can be prepared and strengthened by God to do what it is that God calls me to.
So what am I giving up I hear you ask …
**Trumpet sounds** … I am giving up twitter and facebook. Bearing in mind, I have both on my extremely precious and oh so very distracting Blackberry. When I am bored (read often) I scroll through bucket loads of words and data and newsy stuff to keep my mind occupied. When I am waiting for someone/something, I open up facebook and check what exciting lives (or not) my friends are living. When I have something important to do, like an assignment or a reading task, I quickly check my social networks in case I may have missed something (the world may have blown up in the hour between checking posts – you NEVER KNOW!) So giving up social media will be for me a big thing. I gave up TV last year and never really got back into the habit of watching much, so like all good cross addicters, I switched to the internet, twitter, facebook, blogging *smiles*.
Of course I have learnt much and been exposed to so many new voices through this medium, women in ministry across the globe who have such wisdom and love to share, theologians who push the boundaries and who challenge me, news links I wouldn’t ordinarily notice, points of view different to my own. So twitter is not all fluffy and meaningless, it can be enlightening and educating. But as with all things, moderation is key and as per my previous post, wisdom does not always come in the form of the printed word or out of the minds of others. Sometimes wisdom comes straight from God in the form of revelation, in the form of enlightenment about those things I bury under a mountain of distraction.
So from Wednesday I will be taking a twitter and facebook fast and I will be putting that time to prayer and study. I will be moving into my uncomfortable zone (no distractions) and opening my ears to what God may have to say … and as I have prepared for this fast I have come to the place, as with all things involving God, where I am excited and a little relieved. The pressure to compete, to be as happy, as successful, as clever, as peaceful as the people ‘out there’ can sometimes be overwhelming and so my 40 days are going to be about just me and God and in the open spaces of no distraction I pray God will speak and challenge and restore and prepare me for whatever exciting thing God has in store.
So whether you feel the need to give up something for lent or not, I pray that this time leading up to Easter would at least be meaningful for you, remembering that Jesus didn’t say, ‘I came that you would have a lean chocolate/caffeine free life’, but that you would have a full life, an abundant life, a whole life and that through that you would find the strength to be whole for others around you … I will still be blogging, and I will be checking in on Sundays, our ‘feast day’, but other than that I am taking time to breathe in some God!
Let’s breathe in some God together.