Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent: A Time to Hear From God

Life can get so busy, can't it? There are many distractions and unexpected challenges that show up such as inclement weather, car problems, relationship issues, sickness, to name a few.  How does one move forward and stay focused during these often hectic times?Could it be that the church, imperfect as it is, has provided us with a natural season to re-calibrate?

Lent falls during the dark, cold, days of winter and is a perfect time to slow down, refocus, and reprioritize what really matters in life. Many of us set goals the first of the year, but then get off track way too quickly. Why is that? Because of distractions, that's why! Let's take a look at a few biblical examples to understand the real intent of the season.

First we have Moses. Now Moses, you will recall, was raised in the royalty of the Egyptian palace. After realizing his true identity as an Israelite, he decided to leave the luxuries of Egypt and go live in the desert. Ever feel like you're in a dry, barren time in life? I have. It's not much fun but God usually has a purpose for times such as these. But back to Moses.

What was he doing out there those 40 long years? Or rather what was God doing in him during this time? God never wastes anything in our lives. Perhaps Moses was learning to trust, listen, & depend on God. I bet he did an awful lot of thinking during those forty years. Maybe he even thought his life was over. His executive position at the palace, surrounded by servants and riches, was a distant memory and now he was a nomad surrounded by mostly sheep.

But wait, God had big plans for him, didn't he? Remember the burning bush? God sure has a way of getting our attention suddenly. God's plan was to use Moses in a BIG way, which leads us to the next example, which shows us what not to do in the desert.

The suffering, beaten, down-trodden people of Israel. These were the chosen ones and look how much they suffered all those years in Egyptian captivity. Have you ever suffered many long years? I have. Enter Moses, stage right, to lead them out of bondage. How many miracles did they see? Hint: watch the movie "The Ten Commandments" or better yet, read the book of Exodus. The promise of a better life was before them, but what did they do? Complain, complain, complain; they complained about the food, the water, even the leadership. Sound familiar? FYI, God doesn't like complaining.

So they spent the next 40 years wandering the desert while God patiently waited for them to learn to trust him and accept their circumstances happily. But they didn't, and God said "Trip cancelled". The entire generation died off. But we do have a much better example of how to respond to times in the desert. Let's take a look at Jesus.

He, too, spent time alone in the desert. Forty days to be exact, which may be why Lent is 40 days. What did Jesus do during his desert time? Fast and pray, that's what. Commune with God.

The disciplines of solitude, fasting, and praying, draw our attention away from food, drink, and the distractions of the world. They open the channel to hear from the Lord. The devil tried to tempt Jesus in his weakest moments with the promises of worldly pleasure, power, and significance. His tactics have not changed one bit since then, have they? I have heard it said not to let ourselves get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired. These are the times when we too succumb to temptation. Many seek fame and fortune, power and luxury. But will any of these give us the peace and joy we so desperately crave? I think we know the answer.

Just as God had a plan for Moses and for Jesus, God has a plan and a purpose for your life, too. As we look at these examples, we see that by removing ourselves from the distractions and luxuries of this world, we can tune into the plan God has for our lives. During times of fasting, prayer, and quiet reflection we can hear that still small voice more clearly. We, too, can conquer the temptations that beset us and learn to trust God more fully. That, dear friends, is what Lent is all about.

Do you want to be more focused? Find a sense of purpose? It starts by learning to hear the voice of God and that happens by spending time in quietness, meditation, & reflection. Will you make time for spiritual disciplines this season or will it just be business as usual?

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Until next time, keep looking up!