Sometimes to gain ground, to take steps forward, we need to step back. To pull aside, to push the pause button. Especially in this fast-paced world that we live in.
For when you love someone deeply, you need to take time. Undivided, focused time. To purposely listen intently, to hear their words above the noise.
It works that way as a couple - even a married couple as my hubby and I ... married for 42 1/2 years now. If there is no pausing, no time of focused sharing of hearts together, no listening, no times of retreat ... then there is likely no progress, no deepening of relationship.
And in this busy life, deepening our relationship with God - our most important of relationships - calls out for times of focused connection where we purposely listen deeply. Purposely setting aside time, for more time to listen ...
It starts with a yearning for more,
a quiet cry from the heart, a longing.
"You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek You;
I thirst for You,
my whole being longs for You,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water ...
Because Your love is better than life ... "
Though it is true that I have not always set aside the weeks leading up to Easter as a time to pull aside for deeper connection, I have often longed to do so. Just as many of us participate in special Advent readings leading up to our Christmas celebration of the Birth of Christ, it seems even more important that we take time to focus more deeply on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus as we journey through the weeks before Easter Sunday.
For Lent is ...
"first and foremost about the gospel
making its way deeper into our lives ...
Lent is about Jesus."
(Journey to the Cross)
So, again, as I have started doing in recent years - I am praying that these weeks leading up to Easter Sunday will be like a retreat, a pulling aside, a time to focus more intently and more deeply ... on Jesus. I am thirsty to learn more, to fall more deeply in love with Him. For I am in need ... of Him, of a Savior. Every single day.
"Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God ... The season of Lent, helps us in a special way to cry out for God's mercy." (Henri Nouwen)
A few of the tangible ways that I hope to focus more intently on Jesus (amidst busy days and weeks of home, family, and Cru ministry together with my husband) are to set aside time here and there throughout the day (a few moments here, a few moments there) to spend time in close connection with Him. In addition to my early morning times ... giving Him more of my time.
- reading through a book by John Piper - Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (click link for a free download of this book)
- re-reading the book Draw the Circle to use together with my prayer time
- possibly also reading parts of The Journey to the Cross (click link for free download)
Not a ritual or an obligation, but a cry of the heart ... for Jesus.
How is God calling your heart during this season?