For the past 40 days, I resolved (and mostly failed) to deepen my spiritual life. That’s the thing about resolutions, whether for New Year’s or for Lent – good intentions only go so far. I have yet to completely figure out how to change my behavior in one fell swoop. I think Jeffrey Olson in his book, The Slight Edge has the right idea – it’s only by taking small steps, done over and over and over that we are able to make the changes that will eventually grow into the results we want. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, is writing a book called Before and After about how we develop habits, and her blog has some great ideas as well. More about that in a future post . . . this one is about the deep thoughts I learned during Lent!
One of the habits I tried to cultivate was doing a couple of new online devotionals, one of which was from biblegateway.com. Here’s one of the quotes they provided – I really like the joy inherent in this one:
“A healthy Christian is one of the liveliest creatures on earth. When he is at work you may hear him sing. He cannot help it; do not blame him for a little noise. Let him sing, and laugh till he cries. Sometimes he cannot help it; he will burst if his soul may not have vent. When he begins to talk about his Lord his eyes flash fire. Some people hint that he is out of his mind; but those who know best assure us that he was never before so sane as now. Of course, the world thinks religion is such poor stuff that nobody could grow excited about it. To my mind, cold religion is the nastiest dish ever brought to table. True godliness is served up hot. Newness of life means a soul aglow with love to God, and therefore earnest, zealous, happy. Let the believing man have space for his larger life, swing for his grander joy. Nay, do not gag him; let him sing his new song. If any man out of heaven has a right to be happy, it is the man who lives in newness of life. Come, beloved, I want you to go home to-day with the resolve that the newness of life shall be more apparent in your walk. Do not live the old life over again. Why should you? What good would come of it?” — Charles Spurgeon, “Christ’s Resurrection and Our Newness of Life”
It’s two weeks until Easter, and Lent is almost over. Lent is the 40 days that lead to the Cross and then to the Resurrection – the reason Christianity exists. If the story stopped with the Cross, our sins would be put to death, but there would be no victory. The Resurrection and Easter are the hinges upon which all our beliefs hang. Lent is supposed to be a time of focusing on the reason for the season, thinking about Christ’s sacrifice and God’s great love for us. Many people give up things for Lent, and I had good intentions . . . that lasted about two days. Part of the Lent tradition is that the 40 days don’t include Sundays, meaning Sundays don’t count against you for anything you gave up for Lent. I quickly devolved into every day being Sunday. Sigh.
But one resolution I have (more or less) kept up is the “thinking deep thoughts” resolution, so here’s one that brought me to tears, from a blog post by Mark Buchanan, author of The Rest of God:
“There is a famous story about the theologian Karl Barth, resonant with deep truth. It goes like this: near the end of Barth’s life, having written the most monumental theological work of the 20th Century, having read virtually every other theological work ever penned, a journalist asks him, “What is the greatest truth you’ve ever heard?”
To which Barth replies, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'”
That’s what it’s all about – God’s love. We can argue about theology and nitpick about traditions, but when it comes down to it, the truth is that Love is the greatest force on earth. It’s necessary for life, and it transcends death. The Creator of the Universe loves you and loves me. He created beauty and good and light, and he is within reach. If you seek, you will find – it’s a promise.
For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come. Yes, spring is here. The leaves are coming out, and the grapevines are in blossom. How delicious they smell! Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. – Song of Solomon 2:11-13
Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. – Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. – Henry Van Dyke
The earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. – G K Chesterson, Orthodoxy
Ok, so March is fickle – at least here in Kansas. One day it’s in the 70’s, the next day it’s snowing. A foot. Followed by a tornado. But beautiful weather all the time would be boring, right?
Even though the weather outside might be frightful, today IS the first day of spring, so here are some pictures of what’s right around the corner when it’s cherry blossom season in DC . . .