The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
This is the fourth week in Lent, and my energy for my Lenten journey is in need of a revival. This is the first time in years I have not been consistent in my Lenten spiritual practices: scripture reading, meditating, praying, reading an inspirational Lenten book for 40 days and writing my reflections in my journal. I miss my daily time in silence, sitting with God. It is a time of deep reflection, which brings fresh insights; my soul is restored and my connection to God, people, and myself is strengthened. Well, what happened? How can I get back on track?
Life is what happened. You know how it is: The day starts earlier and extends later; the planned activities are pushed aside to take action on the “do it now”; and the time set aside for my contemplation and reading is postponed until the right time, but I fall asleep before the perfect time arrives.
I’m not making excuses. Really. I’m just saying that this is what happened, and I want, I need the 40 days of Lent to get my spiritual life energized and revived. This year it would have been easier to give up candy, television, or other ways I reward myself than it has been to spend focused time with God. I can’t seem to string together a full week of completing my Lenten practices: writing, reading, praying, and meditating.
I sit down, open my journal, and discover that the last time I reflected on scripture and my inspirational reading was two or L three days back. Or I sit down to read and write, then my mind fills with all the things I need to do or with things I did do that I might have done differently. I have random thoughts that take my mind away from listening for God. As the apostle Paul said, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
The good news is that when we seek God, God runs to us just as the father ran to meet and embrace his prodigal son. I can get back into the rhythm of my Lenten journey by a repentance and a revival that will restore my soul and my joy.
As I draw closer to God, I will:
- Repent of being self-critical and show compassion to myself by releasing expectations of perfection. I can miss a few days and just start again, realizing that all shall be well; God rewards faithfulness.
- Give up competing with my former self and accept that my experience has changed and that my ritual will change too.
- Include walks in nature as part of my Lenten practice. Not only will I get healthier spiritually, but healthier physically too. When we give attention to our whole selves–physical, emotional, and spiritual—then we live well and flourish.
- Avoid thinking about my missed days as a failure. Instead, I will listen to what God wants me to learn:
. . .but [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for [my] power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. —2 Corinthinans 12:9
- Invite others to journey with me and when I miss the planned reading, I can listen to their insights, benefit from their wisdom, and enjoy their companionship on my journey.
Meditations from my Daniel Fast for Lent three years ago: