On this Ash Wednesday, I’m looking at how lazily I’m approaching this Lenten season. Whereas last year I was fully prepared with a book, a guide, an outline, a plan and a palpable excitement about what God was going to reveal to me over the course of 40 days, this year I’m distracted, apathetic and feel as though today has snuck up on me. I haven’t given a single thought to fasting and denying myself something. I haven’t prayed for direction on a book to read or a passage of scripture to study. I’ve spent the past week with my face glued to Gilmore Girls and a stubborn refusal to fully engage in life around me.
That life looks like sick children, a back spasm that had me incapacitated for 3 full days, a house THAT SOLD (the next installment of The Green Door House is coming–I promise!) but the stressful process isn’t over yet, and continued uncertainty about where we will be next.
However, if I take the time to reflect (which I haven’t been), I can see how God has been at work. I’ve had amazing, encouraging conversations with my children about faith and God and the gospel. I’ve been presented with an exciting job opportunity that will provide a bit more peace of mind financially and, when I allow myself to set aside my anxiety and self-doubt, is something I’m really, really excited about. God is at work in the two separate women’s bible studies that I’m a part of. I’m encouraged, convicted, and inspired by these groups of women and their stories. God is at work revealing my selfish, unloving heart. But as I was recently reminded, there’s a big difference between conviction and condemnation. One is from God, the other is self-inflicted punishment.
Now that I think about it, this is exactly where I was entering Lent last year. I was focusing on Jesus and who He is and how far I am from living and loving like Him. And God was faithful to reveal specific ways that my stubborn, sinful heart needed to repent. It was a time of painful pruning that led to amazing fruit.
God isn’t standing in the corner watching me have a Netflix binge and sighing under His breath as He taps the calendar in a passive-aggressive attempt to remind me of the significance of this day. Instead His Spirit is whispering. His scripture is reminding me daily (or as often as I open it) of His unfailing love. For me. He is quietly but faithfully pursuing friendship with me and it means more to me than it ever has before.
God is at work. He wants me to walk with him thoughtfully over the next 40 days.
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6