These last few months of winter have a tendency of drowning me. We have reached the busiest part of our year. The days get packed tight in these months, our weekends get overrun with school events and travel and conferences. The work days last too far into the night and their are tasks lined up for us before the dawn even breaks. The diligence of the fall is waning, the zest from the New Year has faded, and I feel like the best I can do is slough through hours as I tick off days till spring break.
Lent comes to my rescue every year.
For a few weeks I am given permission to sit in silence and allow myself to not be enough. For forty days I am given a reason to clear out the clutter of my life, of my soul; to stop trying so hard to be more, do more, have more. Just as I reach the point of feeling entirely overwhelmed by what I should be doing and the heaviness of my load, Lent comes and offers me another option.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. – Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)
Lent isn’t about adding more. It isn’t about gaining approval or accomplishing goals or mustering up the willpower to do all the things. It is about carving out room in your parched soul for Christ to come and fill up with everlasting water.
So let him dig. Let him excavate. Let him get into the core of your very being and do his thing. He wants to give you an easy yoke, he wants to lead you in the path of abundance. But all your gritty efforts and straining muscles are getting in the way. You have to be empty in order to be filled.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
It hurts to have a well carved into our souls. It is unsettling to have all of the mess cleared out of our gunky hearts. It goes against every wiring in our body to sit in silence and do absolutely nothing productive. But Lent is here to save us, to prepare us for refilling.
Our physical and spiritual realms are wrapped so intricately together that we can’t pretend like we’re ready for Christ to work on the inside when there is nothing going on outside. So that’s why people have been giving up things for Lent for thousands of years, and why we continue to do that. We can’t expect our souls to find space if there is no space for our bodies.
Everyone is different. No one’s Lent journey should be the same. My need for space looks different than last year’s, and it looks different than yours. But don’t think that the deep heart work will happen on its own. God will meet us where we’re at, but if where we are is cluttered and crowded will we be able to meet with Him?
Tangible Ways I’m Making Space this Lent:
- Space in my home: Clear out the overflowing junk drawers, stuffed closets and stacks of things – these quickly start pressing in on my soul space if they get out of control.
- Space in my head: Choose one day a week to turn off music, notifications, podcasts and background noise. Learn to be alone with my thoughts.
- Space from my phone: Plugging in my phone and leaving it alone in the evenings and on weekends. There’s just no reason to check the weather five times or see if any new ads from Bed, Bath and Beyond have arrived in my inbox.
- Space in my scheduling: It’s time to stop filling every hour with tasks to be done. Let there be some blank spaces on the calendar.
- Space for God’s word in the evening: If God’s word is our sustenance why am I only feeding on it once a day for a few minutes in the morning? I am using The Lent Project V provided by Biola University as a guide.
- Space for real Sabbaths: 24 hour breaks from productivity once a week.