This past Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent. I’ve never really practiced Lent in the past, but after a lovely season of preparing my heart, mind, and soul for Christmas with a devotional focused on Advent and really growing in my faith through that experience, I want to prepare myself for the beauty, glory, and joy of Easter, the holiday where we as Christians celebrate that our God is not dead, but very much alive and active and at work among and within us. Hallelujah!
I had mentioned a few posts ago that I recently read the book “Wonderstruck” by Margaret Feinberg. In one of the chapters, she discusses Lent and I absolutely LOVED her insights:
“Lent’s concern isn’t in removing something as much as receiving Someone. The passion of Lent is Christ. The annual sojourn calls for a more focused relationship with God.
Maybe instead of asking, What are we giving up for Lent? we need to ask, Who and what are we trying to receive through Lent?
As we accept this sacred solicitation with sincerity, God meets us open-armed with his goodness and grace. The transformative power of Christ awakens in our lives. The Lenten season invites us to set apart time during the beginning of each year to slough off the excess in our lives that we may live lighter and holier lives. For forty days, Lent gives us the opportunity to live in gentle receptivity of God (pgs. 82-83).”
I was reading this on my flight back from Las Vegas and I proceeded to underline this passage so I would remember to come back to it when Lent rolled around. I started thinking about the Lent season and what it could mean for me as a woman of faith to spend 40 days focusing and receiving Jesus – anticipating His movement, looking for Him in the big and small things, and becoming more aware of His life and presence in everything from the mundane to the busy in my every day existence. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this could be HUGE for me – it could be life-changing and life-giving – and I’m ready for that challenge!
So… how to spend this 40 day journey leading up to the destination of Easter? Well, it just so happens that at the back of the book, Margaret invites her readers to experience “30 Days of Wonder.” The exercise is simple: engage in thirty different activities over thirty days to more fully experience God…
Day 1: Reflection
Day 2: Time
Day 3: Beauty
Day 4: Hope
Day 5: Creation
Day 6: Forgiveness
Day 7: Silence
Day 8: Relationship
Day 9: Sky
Day 10: Stillness
Day 11: Dream
Day 12: Prayer
Day 13: Letter
Day 14: You
Day 15: Sunrise
Day 16: Rest
Day 17: God
Day 18: Restore
Day 19: Appreciation
Day 20: Vacation
Day 21: Pixie Dust
Day 22: Sunset
Day 23: Generosity
Day 24: Forgiving Others
Day 25: Meaning
Day 26: Kindness
Day 27: Sitting with God
Day 28: Gratitude
Day 29: Listen
Day 30: Serve a Stranger
With each day comes a commentary on the particular activity – things to look for, things to do, things to think about. This is the commitment I have made leading up to Easter: to prayerfully and purposefully participate in each activity. Now the book only gives 30 days, and Lent is 40 days… but no worries there. I’ve already thought of some additional activities to engage in: family, friendship, church, exercise…the list goes on… as well as reading passages about the ministry and days leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
I’m so excited to be doing this. On Tuesday night, in preparation for me jumping into this activity, I started looking for verses and passages in scripture that mention “wonders” and came across Isaiah 29:13-14 (NIV) which says the following:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
I don’t want to be a person who pretends to worship and know God, but who really has an empty heart and lacks the vision to see Him and His awesome power at work in the world. God’s Word is clear that what we ask Him for in faith, we will receive (Matthew 7:7). That’s His promise. And right now, I’m asking to go deeper and higher with Him. I’m asking Him to thrill me with His goodness, peace, presence, light, love, mercy, grace, and Word. I’m asking and seeking and trusting Him to take me beyond where I’ve been before. I believe God for His wonders and I believe I will experience God to the full in this Lenten season.
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! (Luke 1:45, NIV)”