Making Room for the Best

4 Mar

Last Wednesday signaled a beginning and an end. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a 40 day period of preparation for Easter. It also provides an opportunity to end self-centeredness. The word Lent stems from an Anglo-Saxon word for spring. Perhaps we could think of it as spring-cleaning for the soul. The 40 days relate to Jesus Christ’s wilderness temptation (Matthew 4:1–2). Forty days to help us focus on Christ’s sacrifice and help transform us into His image.

For me it’s like a fresh start, getting rid of the adequate to make room for the best. How can I cooperate and collaborate with God as I prepare my heart for Resurrection Sunday?

Lent begins with repentance, a change of mind and attitude as we acknowledge our wrongdoing. We turn from sin and turn to God. Many churches place ashes on the forehead as a symbol of that repentance. Repentance is part of our spiritual spring-cleaning. What has to go? What should we keep? What should we add?

A month ago I started the process of discarding. I gave away 130+ books taken from my living room shelves, a difficult process because I love the written word. I haven’t even started on the books in my office and other nooks and crannies. I’m motivated by a desire for simplicity and to “Just Be, Just Do” (found here). It’s so easy to slip into our default mode of accomplishment and speed, of working in our own strength. That need to depend on God led me to wrestle with the following questions.

What takes my time, energy, and affection (possibly a good thing), but has become a substitute for God’s best?  What am I willing to give up, do without, or discontinue that hinders new life in others or in me?  What should I continue or add that will serve others and further God’s Kingdom?

Are there questions you need to ask? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me (Psalm 139:23-24). Dig deep, but don’t be surprised if the answers aren’t monumental. Sometimes small things make the biggest difference.

Finally, my devotional reading (A Year with God—Day 60 by R. Foster & J. Roller) led me to Second Timothy 3:10. “Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (NRSV). I accepted Foster’s admonition to “be cautious and humble about what we may be teaching with our words and deeds. Teaching is so much easier than learning. It is also more dangerous.”

So here I sit at my computer, attempting to share my heart and this 40-day journey. I’ve given up sugar for my health and Spider Solitaire for more time. I’m continuing to discard things and adding order in my days. I’m reaping time for writing this blog and one-on-one relationships. Small but difficult changes with joyful outcomes.

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