01 March 2017

To LENT or not to LENT

Hamlet posed perhaps the most perplexing question in the world; or well maybe at least for a guy named Shakespeare in his longest play ever written. To be or not to be and while we could go down anyone of those roads which diverged in the yellow wood I pose to you not the question of being or not being, but whether or not that Christians should observe Lent.  For the most part Lent is accredited to those of the Catholic faith and regardless of whether or not you agree with this genre of faith, let's get away from the title and get to the premise of what Lent is about or perhaps more so what I consider it to be about.

As Christians the search goes on and on for a way to draw closer to God, after all aren't we promised that He will draw closer to us if we draw closer to Him? Who wouldn't want God close except those who are struggling with the understanding that everything starts with Him (Genesis 1 In the beginning God ...)  and yet their desire is the same thing.  So here we are, a little over a month or so before Resurrection Sunday; the Lenten season now upon us.  It is at this time that we promise to do better, we give something up in observance of Lent, we vow to become a better person but in the scheme of things what really is the purpose for doing all this? Is it so we can be a part of the masses?  Is it so people can recognize that we have some redeeming qualities within us even if it is only for those 40 days?

While all this is good and the intentions behind it are something for which we all could strive, shouldn't we be finding something deeper? Something that will last more than 40 days, dare I say a life changing experience? So I don't know if Lent, while well intentioned, should be our focus but let's peer behind the veil for that which we want to uncover.  There's no better time than the present for us to stop doing something, but I recently heard a sermon that talked about this very thing, and the deciding factor in the stopping of doing something is to start doing something.

I want to hear God's voice.  I want to see God move. I want to see His things made manifest before my very eyes.  I don't know how many times I've cried out to God for a shout from the mountain tops or for the blinding flash of light to alert me of His presence.  And while I've seen glimpses of similar things, more times than not it's when I'm still that I hear Him the loudest and see Him the most.  It's in the way my wife takes care of the home so I can be who I am.  It's in the way my children (all eight of them) do their chores to help around the house, or simply give me a hug and a heart felt "Hi Daddy" when I come home. 

Perhaps that's what man was trying to do by putting the label of Lent on this time of the year; see and hear God.  While I am better served by purposing in my heart to give something up or do something that takes the focus off me and turns it to where, it not only needs to be, but where it should be.

I'm reminded in 1 Kings that God is in the amazing or at least in what we as people identify as amazing, God just recognizes it as being God .... in fact in 1 Kings 18 we find a drought is prophesied and it happens; we find an example of trusting in a God who can supply all our needs as the widow who had very little, fed the man of God and in the process was taken care of by a God who sees and knows; we are witness to the raising of the dead; we have a front row view of the fire of God on display and even a sprinter who make Usain Bolt look slow.  And while all these things are jaw droppers and awe inspirers ... that isn't what I'm drawn too, because all of the amazing things that happened are drowned out by a whisper. 

Elijah wanted to see God and nothing was going to move him otherwise ... not even the wind, the earthquake or the fire was impressive enough to draw Elijah out of his pity party.  But it's what happens in 1 Kings 19:13 that's the clincher.  Don't get me wrong; God has acted, continues to act and will act again in marvelous ways in our world.  Sometimes He works in glorious miracles of deliverance or healing, but not always.  Most of us will probably never see the fire fall like it did on Mount Carmel, but if we only look for God in those things, we may miss Him in the quiet, ordinary, unseen, gentle sounds in life.

Where are you looking for God? 

Maybe your focus this season could be turned away from recognizing Lent and what you are giving up and instead listening for the voice of the One whispering your name.