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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making Space for God

I recently read an article that explained Lenten fasting to children.  The author called it "Making space for God." I really love this description.  What a positive spin on fasting.  It's like turning down a third helping of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving so you will have room for pie.  Skipping one good thing in favor of another.

In my childhood home, we didn't give things up for Lent, we added them.  We added Wednesday night church and it seems like evening devotions went on a little longer during Lent.  At some point in my 20s I decided to try giving things up instead.  I can't really come down on either side of this debate - adding or subtracting things works equally well for me.  Over the past decades I've experimented with a lot of things.  I've given up sweets, sodas, cigarettes, meat, reading fiction and eating out.  I've added a special devotional time to my day or a specific service to others.  I've studied books and learned hymn verses and kept journals using prescribed scripture prompts.  They have all served me well at making space for God.  Some of them, like cigarettes, have become permanent fasts.  Others, like learning hymn verses, are woven into my unconscious being, only to surface when I most need them.

This year I've decided to turn off the television.  I don't really watch it anyway.  Most of the time it's on for background noise, so the sacrifice isn't huge, but the potential space it creates for God to enter is enormous.  Six weeks isn't that long but perhaps God will come into that space and rearrange my mental furniture a bit.  It could really use a change.  And maybe then I can vacuum under some of those assumptions that have been cluttering up my thinking, and discard a few broken ideas I keep meaning to mend but never do. . .  God may have other plans for the space.  I'll have to wait and see.

Families can fast collectively if they want.  It's a wonderful opportunity for creating teachable moments.  Maybe your fast can be a weekly choice, like fish on Fridays, or giving up your pizza night and donating the unspent money to a food pantry.  Or it can be a small daily change like giving up dessert or bottled water.  You may want to try walking more or making your own bread.

Whatever you choose, try it until Easter.  Look for the faith moments created by your change.  You may not even see them now, but they will show up someday.  Give God an inch and you'll get a mile in return.  

Blessings on your Lenten journey.  I hope these 40 days will bring you a greater awareness of God at work in you and in the life of your family.  Feel free to share your stories here!

1 comment:

Janice said...

Julie,

I love the metaphors about cleaning out our minds because you know I like to keep a tidy and clean house. So maybe this year God will help me tidy up my mind of things he wants me to let go of so I can serve him holy in mind, heart, body, and soul. I have a picture of the Holy Spirit with her feather duster or a Swifter gently removing the stuff I cling to and replacing it with a Endust shine. Thank you for creating that wonderful picture in my mind's eye. :) Janice Daily