A mere 8 days until spring and the ground is covered with snow, the temperature is barely hitting double digits. No amount of wishing and wanting the next season can change the reality that heavy coats, hats and mittens are necessary today. No amount of wishing and wanting can get me to Easter either, without this time in the wilderness. I almost made it, like our mild winter with no real snowfall, my schedule so full that I was able to run from activity to meeting to deadline with little time for introspection. Did it make it better that my activities were church related? Lurking behind busyness was my real winter, waiting as each commitment came to a natural conclusion, ending dates nearing for others. The cold air grabs my attention and my energy, reminds me that God has asked specifically for this time. Spring will come, winter’s work is not yet done.
More naps but not rested, I am still tired. Drinking more orange juice and no soda, I am still thirsty. While grateful for the flurry of opportunities that have come my way over the last several months, I am silently crossing off days on the calendar until my schedule looks freer. This season of Lent begs for my attention, begs for my fasting from distractions. I am suddenly aching to fast, my soul is craving the solitude of the wilderness where I can meet up with the voice of the One I long to hear but often tune out with committee meetings and extra sessions. To be fair, I hear God through the works of others in those encounters, but rarely do I experience the up close interaction my soul needs: more quiet time, more alone time, more empty time that allows God space to join me. Lent is a sanctioned time to be alone, to draw inward and consider the condition of my soul.
As a youth I saw Lent as punishment, a time I had to give up something I wanted just to get a big basket of it at the end. As an adult I know that this season is the gift, an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and deal with my temptations, prepare myself for what is to come. For just as I can’t skip ahead to spring without experiencing winter, there is no easy way to Easter without the Cross. I have missed some time readying my soul for what is to come, my body is reminding me to go away into the wilderness, seek the strength of the Father to face it all. Most years as I relive this season, it breaks me, as it should. Some seasons more so, some I have skated through if I am honest. Those years I didn’t wander the wilderness searching for Jesus, wishing I could anoint him with my tears. Those years I stayed busy and bought a pretty dress for the big Easter service. I didn’t crave time alone with God, I didn’t listen for His voice. I ran the other way, terrified at what He might say to me.
God and I have come a long way in our trust, He would probably tell you He has never moved. I have come closer, closer, closer still. Maybe one day I will climb into His lap. The fact though that I WANT my alone time to seek out what He has for me means I am getting closer to living out the verse that has forever spoken most deeply to me: I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13. I have always interpreted that to mean get through all the hard stuff that has been my life and it is true, leaning on my faith has saved me. But what if there is more? What if I can truly wander the wilderness and find God, as Jesus found his resolve to do the will of His Father, prepared His soul for the hardest request ever, during that fasting and alone time? What if my hard thing is to truly trust God enough to climb into His lap and allow Him to love me? Like a blast of cold air when I just want to bask in the sun, I am feeling pushed to ask questions and be quiet for the answers.
Friends, I pray you are finding time this season for your own fasting and craving and seeking and searching. The snow will melt in a few days, spring temps will return. Pray with me that I stay focused on the real season.