Have you ever felt that it would be better if Advent were six weeks long and Lent only lasted four? There is something cozy and endearing about Advent, while Lent seems to go on and on as we struggle to keep our resolutions to give Jesus a gift of something we like.
Lent is upon us already, on Wednesday of this week. It’s likely that you have found it helpful in years past or do something extra during Lent rather than going without. That seems less daunting than sacrificing your nightly glass of wine. Either way, of course, we are pleasing our Lord, as long as we have the right intention.
I would propose, however, a different kind of Lent this year. As I was praying last week to find the ‘right’ program for Lent, I heard that still, small voice I’ve come to love, deep in my soul. Jesus said, ‘How about, instead of worrying about what you are going to do for Me for Lent, you just open yourself to what I want to do in you these next 4o days?’
What God wants to do in us. Doesn’t that sound like something Jesus would say? I don’t think He’s talking about our looking eagerly for heavenly gifts. I think what God is suggesting is a simple, prayerful openness to the work of the Holy Spirit in us as He takes these next six weeks to transform us into the likeness of His Son.
As I ponder what this means, here is what I see:
each morning I’ll say, ‘Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.’ Then I’ll just keep my eyes wide open for what His Spirit wants to give me; a kind word for someone I rarely speak to, like the gal who rings up my groceries or the FEDEX man who drops off a box I ordered.
He might lead you to a quiet space just before you fall asleep and He’ll give you words to whisper a thank you to Him for getting you through the day. That would be His gift to you, as you drift off peacefully.
Maybe I’ll find myself wanting to be in a more prayerful place as I walk up to Holy Communion, and I’ll hear this prayer welling up from my heart: ‘Jesus, You are coming to the likes of me! I love you for this.’ Those might be words I wouldn’t think of praying myself, so they must come from Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to pray.
Maybe we’ll see something in the parish bulletin that will move us in a way that gives us the shivers, and we’ll think, That’s God! What is He doing in me?
Soon we’ll find ourselves, you and I, asking Him:
Please sweeten my disposition, Jesus, because I feel cranky this morning. Be with me in this conversation, Lord. Go ahead, do something in me as I talk to my boss, call my long-lost son, or open the door to my visiting nurse.
So, what is He doing in us? He’s drawing us to Himself, changing our outlook, making us more aware of Him in our life and sweetening our dispositions, because, after all, He does want to transform us.
All this can happen only if we remember each morning to open our heart to Him. Tell Him, here I am, Lord. I want to do Your will. And then keep our minds free to listen for the sound of His voice.
That sounds like a wonderful way to spend Lent so that on the Feast of the Resurrection we will be able to speak with the risen Jesus about all the ways He has transformed us during our Lent.
Shall we do this together? Then let’s pray for each other. Let our ashes remind us that this Lent we plan to just allow God to have His way in us.
God bless you.