Lent and the View from the Mountain

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In Exodus, God speaks to Moses and says, “Come up to the mountain and stay here.” It’s a simple invitation, and yet it strikes me as profoundly important.  As I’ve reflected on those words this week, I can’t help but think that this invitation is at the very heart of Lent. During this quiet,  reflective season, God offers us an opportunity to come up to the mountain with him and just stay.  He invites us to stay with nowhere to be and nothing pressing to do. He invites us to rest in the quiet and just listen. He invites us to be present and make space for his glory.

Last week I spent some time with a group of ministers talking about wellbeing.  One of the leaders spoke about this particular scripture and he noted that the thing about being on top of the mountain is that it changes your perspective.  Suddenly, your view is completely different.  When we’re on top of the mountain, we notice the beauty and majesty of creation—the vastness of it all.

But at the same time, everything feels smaller. The details fade, and we’re left with the reality of who we are.  We are human. We are small. Sometimes we fail. We are broken and in need of a Savior.

And yet, we are surrounded by the grace and majesty of God.

Lent offers us the chance to see things from a new perspective. Today, on this first day of the Lenten season, I’m giving myself the space to experience something new. I’ll be closing my office door for a few hours in order to go up to the figurative mountain and stay for a while with God.  I will let the details fade away, if only for a moment, and listen for how God is speaking to me in this season.

The invitation extended to Moses is for us as well.  If you’re tired, restless, weary, or broken, there is place for you to sit and rest. Come up to mountain, take in the view from the top, and stay.

 

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Lent

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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.

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Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

It’s Friday! This has been a little bit of as wacky week with snow and ice and cancellations, but my soul appreciates the rest it brought. This weekend is all about staying inside (it’s SO cold), spending time with friends, and relaxing. Plus, Sunday is one of my favorite nights of the year—the Oscars! I’ll be live tweeting the red carpet, and hosting an Oscars party (because, why not?!?). I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! XO

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 For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This past Wednesday we entered into the season of Lent. This post from Relevant magazine captures what this season is all about and invites to creates space for God to work in the messiness of our lives. Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. Lent invites us to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives. 
  • This video on the UNC-Duke rivalry. Even though we lost, the UNC-Duke is always one of my favorite days of the year. I can’t wait for March 7!
  • This super fun faux stained glass project from A Beautiful Mess. It wouldn’t work in every home, but I think it is so cute (and it looks pretty easy). I love a good craft project!

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