On a Long Walk with God
Lent begins two weeks from today on Ash Wednesday (February 18). We will have our worship service at 7PM, which officially begins our journey to the cross and then to Easter. Every year, I do what I will this year, encourage the church family to take up spiritual disciplines as an effort to “die to self” and recognize our dependence upon God. This annual rhythm of refocusing reminds us of the centrality of God as we know God in Jesus Christ.
For my part this year, I have not decided upon specific disciplines yet. I know I need to rededicate myself to practices I do throughout the year: Bible reading and journaling. I know my discipline will include fasting. Jesus assumes his followers will fast in order to give themselves fully to God (Matthew 6:16). I know I will pray with a sense of expectation. I believe my prayers are heard by a real, present, involved God, not wishes shouted into a well.
There is something else I know. This season of commitment to spiritual discipline and commitment to my part in developing my relationship with God is something that happens within a lifelong walk. I became a Christian in 1981. I have been in a household of Christ followers from birth. Parents and Grandparents prayed for me before I was born.
I don’t mean for this short post to sound matter-of-fact. There is nothing normal or ho-hum about walking in step with the God of the universe. And that is what I believe I am doing. I am on a walk with the God who created … everything. I may not always acutely sense God’s presence but intellectually and emotionally, I do not doubt it. And it is amazing. When I feel dull or sleepy in my walk with God, I am falling under an enemy’s spell, allowing the Evil One to lull me into a dangerous slumber.
It is not matter-of-fact. It is familiar. I know God knows me. I know God will love me even if I fail to observe Lent at all. If between now and Easter, I don’t even pray a single time, God still loves me. However, I will miss something. I don’t know what, exactly. But is going to speak, and I don’t want to miss that. God is going to act, and I want to see it and be part of it.
I also want to be more like him. By that I mean I want to forgive more easily and freely. I want the patience Jesus had. I want to love in a way that transforms me and the one to whom I extend agape love, be it my wife or my child or my enemy. I want all that is Godly in Christ to define me. So, I will take up these disciplines in a way that is unique to Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, and Easter.
The rest of the year is just as much a time to die to self and live in Christ. But this season has a quality to it unlike any other. I hope and pray that on April 6 (the Monday after Easter Sunday); I wake up a different person than who I am today. I hope and pray that on that day, I know something about God I don’t now know. I want there to be a palpable Holy Spirit presence in me. That is the journey I am on and have been for a long time. I am grateful for this life, life with God. With God beside me, I will take the next step on this walk.