Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lent: A Time to Wake Up

“Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.”
-Psalm 57:8

Lent is a time to wake up spiritually. Just a David roused himself awake in Psalm 5, so Lent is a season set apart for us to wake up and seek God afresh in our lives.

Lulled to Sleep
For many of us, we start the New Year with a fresh fervor for seeking the Lord. Our devotional times are alive, and our prayer life invigorated. Maybe we begin a new Bible-reading plan or devotional book.

But over time the newness begins to fade, and our intensity wanes. Life has a way of lulling us to sleep—emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes, we simply become tired. Week after week our responsibilities pile up, and we become weary as we fulfill them. Perhaps we catch a cold and need some extra rest. When we finally feel better physically, we realize that we have lost the momentum we had a couple of months ago.

Or, sin can lull us to sleep. We give in—just a little bit at first—and the next thing we know we have become numb to God. We avoid spending time with the Lord because we know we are not right with him. As time goes on, we make excuses and begin to sear our conscience. We move into a spiritual sleep.

For others, we simply become sidetracked. All the cares of the world divert our attention, and over time, we lose our focus. As a result, the fervor we had for pursuing God a few months ago cools down, and we drift into a bit of a spiritual dullness. So long as we are in our mortal bodies, such a slowing down is bound to happen.

Rousing Ourselves Awake
We need to stir ourselves awake. Lent provides just such an opportunity. As a forty-day preparation for Easter, Lent is a time to rouse ourselves awake emotionally, physically and spiritually.

We can do so in a number of ways. We can begin a devotional book for Lent that guides us through Scripture reading and some short reflections that provide a structure for our quiet times with the Lord. These are very helpful in drawing us out of the rut that we are in.

Another help is fasting. Fasting is a wonderful spiritual rhythm that has been associated especially with Lent for most of Christian history. That fasting can be from food or it could be from things like television, which often contributes to our spiritual lethargy. When we fast, we declare our independence from the desires and addictions of our bodies, in order to focus our attention on the Lord.

Still another practice is simply stirring ourselves more awake each morning, especially if that is when we have devotional time with God. I began doing that this summer. When we were away on a retreat, I realized that, although I was having regular quiet times with the Lord, I was not fully present. Therefore I started the practice of moving around a bit more before settling into my devotional time. I also set aside ten minutes for worship before trying to listen to the Lord’s voice in Scripture and prayer. That practice has made a huge difference. Especially mornings when I am feeling dull and lethargic, I make sure to rouse my soul awake as a praise God afresh and seek his face.

A Time to Wake Up
How do you need to wake up to be fully present with the Lord? Whatever has lulled you to sleep, Lent is a tremendous opportunity to wake up spiritually. Find a practice—a rhythm—that works for you, and be like David, who summoned his soul awake and then proceeded to wake up the dawn in his love for the Lord!

© 2012 Glenn E. Myers

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