Throughout Lent, Rooted will be offering devotionals on Mondays. Our hope is to provide a bit of space for you to reflect, pray, and connect in the season that reminds us of the longings our Lord knew, just as we know.
How I long for rest. How I long for Easter morning.
In a season of life that has brought me to new extremes of entering into others’ suffering, facing my own, and crying out to the Lord for help, healing, and hope, I find a deep appreciation for the meaning of Lent this year. The muscles right above my shoulder blades are seized in a constant Charley Horse, making meals has become an ‘inconvenience,’ and it is taking everything within me to fight for a Sabbath day today. To-do lists pelt my mind like hail, and I can feel my desire to know ramping up. There is that friend to check on, that job to find, that lesson to write, that book to read, that group to plan for, those girls to encourage, and those clients to plan for.
This is a place I knew all too well in youth ministry.
Tempted to find my worth, meaning, and motivation in the hamster wheel I have constructed for myself, I spin around and around wondering when my legs might just give out and my furry wee body will succumb to the centrifugal forces which throw me from my prison. Off I will fly, whiskers and all – my tail still reaching back for the safe familiarity that has just ejected me.
“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols,” says John Calvin in Institutes of the Christian Religion.
One of the beautiful things about Lent is the way it correlates with the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert. We’re invited to consider the ways our lives parallel these stories and the ways we see God work in and through them. In my story, I especially relate to the faulty memories of the Israelites. How often I forget that my God is One who provides, One who is trustworthy, and One who is always with me. How often I am tempted to believe that it is up to me to fight the battles, save the lost, and heal the hurting.
I’m even tempted to make rest into another thing to do, to make the incredible honor of walking alongside others’ stories into a task. I mistake love for something graspable; and by that, I diminish it to something it is not. I wander around eating manna that I believe I have spent all day foraging for when in actuality, I merely opened my hands for it earlier when it fell from the sky. My manna-hunting becomes an idol. Because if I can hunt down enough manna for all of the teens, clients, friends, and family in my life, then I will have done my part. Then I will be worthy.
But Lent brings a special call to remember. In lieu of putting my trust in my ability to manna-hunt (which catches me up in ye olde hamster wheel), I pray that Jesus would draw my eyes to His promises, His provision, and Himself. I repent of the idols I have made out of accomplishing, impacting, and knowing, and I pray for grace to sit a little while in the longing. I pray for strength to say no to the temptations and for the Holy Spirit to help me remember who He is and what He has done. I pray for the courage to hope, looking toward Easter Day which has really already come.
And I pray this for you too.