14 days behind us; T-26 to go in the 40 Days (Lent) preceding Easter…
I hope the addition of some spiritual discipline during the 40 Days has revealed some things to you and has deepened something in you. Adding good habits or ridding of bad is never easy and always includes a hurdle of some sort; requires some perseverance.
If you’ve struggled to begin or you’ve stalled please don’t be discouraged. Enjoy the mercies of God and do something, anything, today…right now. Read a line of scripture from either the Gospel of John or the letter to the Philippians. Offer God a 2-minute simple and entirely honest prayer of whatever you might find on your heart or mind. At the least, thank God for a few things!
If you’re reading Keller’s book Prayer with us, be (strangely) encouraged by the admitted difficulty of prayer…of a the nature of trying to connect with an invisible God…of moving into a realm where we must admit our spiritual deficits. Keller quotes Austin Phelps regarding something critical to remember:
The first thing we learn in attempting to pray is our spiritual emptiness— and this lesson is crucial. We are so used to being empty that we do not recognize the emptiness as such until we start to try to pray. We don’t feel it until we begin to read what the Bible and others have said about the greatness and promise of prayer. Then we finally begin to feel lonely and hungry. It’s an important first step to fellowship with God, but it is a disorienting one.
Keller, Timothy (2014-11-04). Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (pp. 24-25). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Are you willing to enter and endure such a place for a time?
If you’re reading Smith’s The Good & Beautiful Life with us, he concludes the narrative of Chapter 2 with a brief explanation of how entering the presence and power of the kingdom of God requires us to embrace ways of living that are somewhat unfamiliar if not opposed to the protective, prideful and independent ways of living we’ve been taught:
Jesus’ primary message was the availability, presence and power of the kingdom of God, which is the central teaching of the New Testament. The power of the church rests in the kingdom of God. The good news is that we are invited into this life with God. We enter the kingdom through surrender, humility, trust and a willingness to begin working on our hearts in order to become the kind of person God desires us to be. God is creating an all-inclusive community of persons whose hearts and character are shaped by Jesus. This can happen only in the kingdom of God. Fortunately, all of us are invited, regardless of our past.
James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ (Apprentice (IVP Books)) (Kindle Locations 413-417). Kindle Edition.
Are you willing to enter in such a way?