be gentle

Lent is upon us.

We withdraw.  We look inward.  We reflect.  We go deep.

Lent is a time for prayer, repentance, sacrifice and good works.  It is a time when we deny ourselves that which is taking up the spaces where we need more of God.

In my deep there is darkness.

His deep is pure light.

In me there are shadows of fear and doubt.

In Him only trust and hope.

And while I want to enter into great spiritual exercises, measure out disciplines, and enter into a deep mourning and grief over the shortcomings and failings in my life, a tender voice sighs:  Quiet.

It’s the whisper in the frigid wind, the blinding sun reflecting on a frozen landscape, the deafening silence of the earth buried in a heavy blanket of snow.

It is still winter.

And while I am inclined to strain myself in the birth of spring, with rituals of purification and cleansing, He gently persuades…give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live…for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.

It is not yet Spring, but it’s coming.  And we must prepare,  not by human force, but by God’s own gentle path.

He calls me to his tender, merciful arms.  He invites me to walk in communion with His Holy Spirit.  He encourages me to abide in the aroma of his goodness and illuminated in His refining light.

Because where there is light the darkness is pushed out.

I cannot win this struggle by my own might.  I will achieve nothing with my own spiritual calisthenics.

Only the light can overcome darkness.

I cannot do what only He can do for me. But I can heed his voice.  I can abide in Him, so that He in turn can abide in me.

Then, when I am in full communion with the love and peace of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve invited Him to tame the monsters of my deep – doubt, control, anxiety, ambition, pride – then I can exist as He intended:  to know Him, to receive and speak life, to love.

Spring is coming, and we must prepare, so that Christ can resurrect again through each one of us in our words and in our service.

“I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. ” – Max Lucado

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beginnings

Pondering the new year. Silencing the noise to hear Gods voice.

Jesus began his ministry with a 40 day fast in the wilderness. Before entering into the ministry of all ministers, he removed himself from the fray. He entered into prayer and fasting. He went into seclusion.

That is where we must succeed first. We must be able to conquer and master ourselves. We must be able to face the whispers of the enemy that infiltrate our thoughts in the moments of loneliness, when the limelight goes out, when the crowds head home. We have to know who we are in him when the dissenters come, when disapproval rises. When the people revolt, when we fight the good fight in the name of the Lord and sin gets disrupted, when people are uncomfortable and the truth cuts too deep.

I need to know the shepherds voice. I need to know my name, who I am in Him. I need to be focused on his will and his approval alone. I need to rely on his strength and wisdom.

And so my fight is time. As an accountant I can get pulled into the stress of overwork, time restraints and doing more as all the demands of the previous year scream to be resolved. Year end reports, audits, taxes. While I’d like to leave 2013 behind, it still needs to be put to bed. The exercise of picking up the pieces and properly and painstakingly packing them away still needs to be done. And yet the new year beckons. New goals, new hopes, new dreams, new desires are clamoring.

Before the year is even on its way I can feel overwhelmed, buried by the demands, the pull back and the push forward. And so I need to stop. Be still. Balance and focus myself on the groom at the end of the aisle. So that I don’t get off track before I’ve taken the first step.

Not less, but more. I can go about removing from my life, but more important is what will take its place.

So what is it that needs to removed from my life, so that there is room for more of God in my life? Where should there be less of me, and the burdens, weaknesses, desires and indulgences that take up the spaces that need more of God?

Because what I need to sacrifice is nothing when measured against what I will receive to fill the void.