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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Early Lent

Lent officially opens exactly one month from today, Feb 13.  But this 2013 year is already so out of control that an extended season seems in order.  If anyone else has that same impulse, feel free to join. I had the idea (hopefully from the Spirit) of fasting from 3 normal, beautiful, pleasurable  life-giving things to remind me that all life really comes from Jesus alone.  One for each ligament in Caleb's knee that's healing.  Alternatively one could add 3 spiritual disciplines that one does not already normally practice.  There will be no public accolades or heavenly brownie-points.  But there will be this:

1.  A daily reminder that in our weakness (when we really WANT that thing given up; when we FORGET to pray) Jesus is strong.  We lean on him to do what we can't.  In fact as we struggle, and even when we fail, the power of Christ comes upon us, and is completed. (1 Cor 12:9).  This is Lent by Grace, not a contest for the super-strong, but a life-source for the weak.

2.  A daily reminder that the things which promise life (a certain food or drink, a certain show or hobby, a certain place or luxury) are mere reflections of true life.  (John 1:4)

3.  A daily sense of participation in what God is doing.  In our flesh.  In continuity with the sufferings of Jesus.  (Col 1:24)

4.  A daily conviction that the Kingdom comes, with a cost.  That that which doing in this world is not easily done.  That the battle matters, is real.  (1 Pet 4:12-13).  This is the normal way that redemption marches forward, that darkness is fought back.

5. A daily, incremental, barely perceptible growth in core faith, as testing results in patience, endurance, molding of character into that of Jesus (James 1:3-4).

You will undoubtedly think of more, those are just what comes to mind this afternoon.

Perhaps a healing knee seems peripheral to the work of God, to the suffusion of the earth with glory and truth.  But the Bible is full of small healings.  This is where real life is lived, in the agony of a child's pain, in the loss, in the overcoming of discouragement to struggle on, in the actual restoration of a limb or a heart.  When Isaiah announced the coming of the Messiah, he described the filling in of valleys and smoothing of roads (Is 40:1-5), the rough places made smooth. The abysmal state of the desert path was part of the curse upon the world; anyone who has lived in Africa can relate to that.  The sudden drop-off of the road into a gully was a literally broken piece of this world that caused Caleb such grief.  And when Jesus announced his Kingdom coming (Luke 7:22) he referenced the poetic picture of Isaiah 35:
     Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
     And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 
     Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
     And the tongue of the dumb sing,
     For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
     And streams in the desert . . . 
     A highway shall be there, and a road . . . 

Sometimes we over-spiritualize everything to the point of forgetting that my child is lame, Jesus can heal him, and so let's just ask for that.  Literal knitting of ligaments, literal strengthening of feeble knees (Heb 12:12-13).  That alone is a goodness and redemption.  My suspicion is that it's part of something bigger, too, of what God wants to do with this boy's life in this world.

I think it will be our privilege, then, to look back and remember the community of saints which drew together to pray and strain through this time of healing.


Sarah said...

Joining in that community to lift y'all and Caleb up! So amazing to have met him and have a real-life encounter to just further encourage those prayers. My mom, who is now enjoying following your blog and other WHM'ers in Bundi or connected to Bundi, is also praying. And let me tell you, she is a prayer warrior. On our knees with y'all and for y'all! -Sarah

Deb Smith said...

Praying and fasting..

scruffy said...

i was already in an extended fast and waffling. Feel like God just used you to strengthen me too. i would be happy and honored to add Caleb's leg to my prayers and i always try to remember you guys and your work.

Suzanne said...

I'm so glad you're doing this. I wasn't really ready to be done with advent and had been thinking about how to extend it, but this is better. The clencher for me was when you wrote: This is Lent by Grace, not a contest for the super-strong, but a life-source for the weak.