Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Quiet Voice Of Lent

Post by: Joe Mazza

As we begin the season of Lent, these 40 days before Easter can be a rich and meaningful time in the life of a believer in Christ. I read a quote recently that describes the season beautifully:

If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know that it’s a struggle. Things start out well, but soon exhaustion sets in and each step becomes a reconsideration. If you hold out long enough, there awaits the sweet joy and relief of being so close to the top that you can see the view. You may be worn out, but the glory of the sight gives you new life… Lent is a climb toward the breathtaking panorama of what Jesus has done for us.

One of the best gifts this season offers us is the opportunity to be quiet. We have so many loud voices around us - non-stop news, the demands of work, and the often overwhelming expectations of our personal lives and schedules. On top of that, if we only look at our Facebook feeds, it seems like everyone else is handling life a lot better than we are. Oh look, there’s a beautiful picture of my friend on vacation! I wish I was in Hawaii. Oh wow, what a great party that must have been!  How come I don’t get to go to great parties? Has that stupid giraffe been born yet? That's a beautiful quote about peace and serenity that my friend just posted. She must really have her life together… more than I do, I bet. With the exception of the giraffe thing, this relentless stream of only the best of other people’s lives can tempt us to follow suit - to post only our triumphs, only our most fun moments, and that one picture out of a hundred that got our best side.

I used to write in journals all the time. I’d write about my day, my frustrations, and things that made me happy. Then at some point I stopped. I think maybe posting things on social media started to take the place of keeping a journal, but I lost something valuable along the way. I lost the place where I could express the struggles, the failures, the darker corners of my life into which I needed to invite God. Lent is the quiet voice that calls me back.

In Psalm 139, King David (who had some pretty serious triumphs and failures) starts out by resting in the fact that God knows him perfectly. Not just what he posts on social media, but everything.

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."

For 18 verses, David goes on about the safety and love he feels being known so well by God. Then, after a quick little complaint (David was great at complaining in the Psalms), he ends by saying,

"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

I recently picked up a journal and I’ve been trying to get back into writing in it. I admit, it hasn’t been easy. There’s something less satisfying at first about writing in a book and then not being able to scroll to see if what I wrote was as good, cool, or interesting as what other people wrote. But I’m getting back into the hang of it and I’m committed to sharing with God more openly there than when I post things online. And as I climb this mountain towards Easter, I know that our faithful God will lead me in the way everlasting, as King David described in his psalm.

Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at BUMC and leads worship at our 8:30, 9:45, and 5:05 worship services.

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