Right now we find ourselves in the middle of the season of Lent. Lent marks a season of preparation for the resurrection. During Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, we enter into a season of holy discipline. For centuries, Christians have prepared their hearts for the joyous celebration of the resurrection in much the same way Jesus prepared for his public ministry—with fasting, with prayer, with solitude, with sacrifice. The tradition continues today, with varying levels of dedication, across many faith traditions (not just Catholicism).
I’m reading through a series of devotions from IF: Equip geared towards this season of preparation. To be honest, I’ve let this season pass me by. It seems strange considering I spend my days preparing Bible studies and writing devotions and planning worship services related to this season. And yet I seem to be be missing something. Yesterday’s devotion ended with this simple question that hit me like a ton of bricks:
What does it look like for you to take time to examine your heart?
At its core, Lent is about emptying yourself and creating space for God to move and work in the void of all the other mess that typically takes up space in your heart. When people give up something for Lent, that is why they do it—it’s the symbolic act of making space. It’s clearing out all of the distractions that fill our lives and inviting God in to fill up the space and do the work that needs to be done in our hearts that day.
I don’t know exactly what it would look like for me to take time to examine my heart. Less work, less rush, less worry? My head will hardly let my soul imagine it. I think a lot of us feel that way. We want to be open to the idea of clearing out space. We want our hearts to be more open, more receptive to what God is trying to teach us. But where to make room? What to give up? That part is a little more difficult to imagine.
But I think I know what would happen. I think that if I truly gave God space—gave him the best of my time, my energy, my attention—that he would swoop into my life in the most unexpected way. That things would change and that most importantly, I would change. These days the sun is (slowly) growing warmer and the air smells of spring. Easter is close, and we can feel the mounting expectation and celebration in our very bones. Life after death. Hope from despair. Freedom from the grave.
But Lent is still here, too. There is space for clearing out, for examining your heart. Lent invites us into a season of discipline—a season of less—so that God can fill us up beyond our greatest expectations. So what does it look like for you to take time to examine your heart? That’s a question worth considering.