the season of lent is rapidly approaching and i’ve begun the process of pondering upon what sacrifice would be fitting for my season of life. i made the mistake of doing something interesting one year (though very fruitful in my life i must say), and now my cousin calls to find out what i’m giving up.

for some strange, sadistic reason i look forward to Lent. i love challenges, i love “personal growth” and i’m idealistic enough to think that perhaps by making an effort, things in life can actually get better.

this morning for the new sunday school (thoughts on that later) class i’m helping to gather we watched one of don miller’s new convergence videos on disappointment. it was wonderful conversation and the video talked about our times in “the desert” which is antithetical to the garden, the very place where we’re designed to be. but it’s in the desert in which we can fully experience the goodness of God. it’s like you can’t fully experience joy until you’ve also experienced some pain and suffering.

(valentine’s side note: jj asked me why i once said that i was never a crier until i started dating him. i referenced a quote that i’m not able to give verbatim that basically said that leprosy, a common disease of which jesus frequently healed, was the inability to feel. it’s very dangerous because you could cut off your hand and never know. on the flip side, you can’t feel good sensation either. so, as i explained to jj, with the experience of love you also encounter tears, but it’s a good thing – it’s a part of being able to truly feel).

[return to main topic]. i really appreciate the disciplines as a way of exposing myself to the desert. that’s what the 40 days is supposed to identify you with: Jesus’ time in the desert. when you deny yourself, when you suffer, you can then also catch glimpses of joy that you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.

i think there’s a camp of people out there who don’t appreciate the disciplines because they think it’s works-based. i disagree. it’s participation, not causation. so, on a similar note, i read donald miller’s blog today about faithful living (i know, i’m a walking don commercial today):
Our faith is not about magic, it’s about partnering with God to see remarkable things happen through faithfulness and consistency over a long-period of time. If we buy into the instant-results mindset of our culture (that is depressed and confused itself) we will become very frustrated with God. God has a system for growing food. If one farmer does no work, but prays and sings to God, and another farmer does work, and does not pray or sing to God, then the farmer who prayed will starve and the farmer who worked will eat, because even though the second farmer didn’t acknowledge God, he understood God’s ways and he adhered to the principles God created. The first farmer was just looking for a magic show.

so now i have just a few short days left to pray and consider what field of my life i’m looking for God to cultivate – and what i need to do to work the land so that something might grow.

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