After his suffering, he showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom. – Acts 1:3
Forty days may seem like a long haul between now and Easter – but that’s kind of the idea. I especially like this concept because we live in a culture where just forty hours is perceived as a long time. Forty minutes. Forty seconds even. The question always seems to revolve around reacting quickly enough to catch the current news cycle and then move on.
We rush headlong into opinions, judgments, reactions, and conclusions before moving on to the next urgency. Too much of life is like a “debate” stage where there is 60-seconds to state our case and change some minds before being t-boned at 60-mph by a contrary point of view or, more likely, a gratuitous personal attack!
What a poor way to live! What an impossible approach to thought, and analysis, and decision making, and weighing what is right, or necessary, or expedient.
Enter into another framework:
So here in these weeks leading up to Easter the church calls us to enter into another framework for the coming forty days, plus six Sundays, Sundays that become – can become – waystations on our journey.
But not just a church-oriented framework. Why not allow this spirit of deliberate contemplation, of catching our breath, of slowing down, of reinvention take root in the manner that we live? As a family and in our marriages; how we approach our work, respond as friends, engage the world via social media; dare I suggest the way that we make our political decisions?
This journey to the cross is God’s invitation for us to step into another way of being, and to apply the timeless principles of seeking God to our full experience of living.
Not to disengage from the world but to engage with God – to invite our experience of following Jesus into our day-to-day living.
Personally, I do not believe Jesus is calling us to give anything up for Lent so much as to be more intentional when it comes to including him. Typically we give things up that distract us from our walk with God; how about, instead, keeping Jesus so purposefully in the forefront of our experience that it is God who distracts us from things?
Being proactive rather than reactive:
At my church yesterday we celebrated two Ash Wednesday services, noon followed by lunch together, then 7:00 in the evening after church supper.
We don’t have to think about what hinders our relationship with the Almighty when we are already in God’s presence.
But let’s not rush things. This is a forty day initiative of reflection and prayer, plus six Sundays filled with joy and celebration. Paul wrote that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:37-39). Nothing, that is, outside of our tendency to – like Martha – be distracted.
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part” (Luke 10:41-42).
Forty days of choosing the better part, because the better part is Jesus.
Peace on the journey; peace and tenacity – DEREK