This year, my approach to Lent was slightly different.
Less passive & more slow faith contemplative. Instead of just reading through a passage or devotional, I talked about it during my quiet time. I prayed it during my quiet time.
And I jumped into the story to get a closer view. As a result, the stories seemed more true & in an even deeper way than they usually do. They became more real to me in those moments.
The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances. -Robert Flatt
5 Things I Learned During Lent this Year
(1) God is my God & I am his people.
When you personalize what you're reading in those Bible verses and passages, it almost feels like a story written just for you.
This year, I let go of a lot of the self-imposed rules about my faith - what I should be thinking as I read, what I'm supposed to get out of a passage, how a quiet time is supposed to go, whether or not my faith or beliefs are good enough. And I just dove in without the baggage.
Each time, I let go and begin again, it's at a deeper level. And my faith morphs into something a lot more God+Jeanine and a lot less this-is-what-it-should-look-and-feel-like.
(2) The one who knows us is with us.
Though you might feel like you've been dropped off alone in the middle of a never-ending story that isn't going your way, God is right there with you in it, caring about exactly what you're going through, in a way that you might not be aware of at the time.
If you're grieving, he's grieving with you. He knows that ultimately, you're going to be okay, but he also loves you & understands exactly what you're feeling. And what was even more important about this idea is the following...
(3) Feelings are normal.
The Lazarus story was my favorite this year. And one thing that really stood out to me was that Mary and Martha both understood clearly who Jesus was and what he was capable of, but still cried as they talked to him about losing their brother.
But not only did Jesus not chide them for being upset when they knew he could ask anything and God would grant it - that might be a slight paraphrase - he cried with them.
So, trusting him does not mean you can't be upset when things go wrong. Feelings are allowed.
(4) No matter what, God wants to use you.
It really stood out to me this year that Jesus sent out his disciples to do the same healing work he did. He loved them tenderly, and often seemed to be training them to continue being there for people after he was gone.
But these same disciples were often so clueless that half the time, they didn't seem to get who Jesus, why he was with them, or what was actually going on at the time. And sometimes, I could totally understand that because Jesus said some confusing things.
But they were still the ones he told his secrets to and he chose them, again and again, to be with him, to learn from him and to do the work he called them to do.
They were helpful in spite of themselves. And so are we.
(5) God is like Jesus.
I am grateful for all of the Lent and Easter stories because of what I learn and remember about what God is like. The tenderness, the radical acceptance, the healing, the friendship, the calling, the rescues and the miracles.
That's the God I walk with every day, my hand in his.
Knowing him and holding his hand - that's what Easter means to me this year.
What Does Easter Mean to You?
Renewal. Rebirth. New Beginnings. Hope. Restoration. Resurrection.
There are so many words that surface during this season as people write and speak about anticipating spring and Easter. What does this time of year mean for you, or in your life?
Here are a few journal prompts you can use during your next morning quiet time...
(1) How did your relationship with God or your faith grow during this season of Lent?
(2) Did you get any new insights on familiar Bible verses or passages?
(3) What does Easter mean to you this year?
Wishing you an Easter filled with meaning, or a spring filled with the possibility of renewal, or whatever you celebrate that you dive deep into its energy.