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Day 7 of Lent: Not punishment, power up!

February 19, 2013

Verse for Reflection: Everyone who drink this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give … will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give … will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14

One person who decided to try the “ten minutes of doing nothing” discipline for Lent (which I mentioned on Ash Wednesday) said, “You know what ten minutes of doing nothing reminds me of? The time outs we used to do when we were kids.”

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Oh yes. Time out as a “discipline”—a form of punishment. I had not thought of that when I suggested it, taken from my pastor’s meditation that day.

And that is what is wrong with our approach to many of the classic disciplines. Fasting. Praying. Giving up smoking. Somehow Lent sometimes feel like punishment—because we’ve been bad. We’re bad because we don’t live a sacrificial life all year long.

Somehow I don’t think spiritual disciplines are supposed to be like that.

When Jesus went to the wilderness for 40 days, he did not go as punishment. He went seeking … something more from God. Seeking to gather strength for the journey ahead—the launch of his ministry. The mission of three years of giving himself, and then, ultimately, giving up his very life, in the end. I don’t think he really knew what lay ahead. So his 40 days in the wilderness was a journey to get closer to God, discover the path God had for him.

And that is how the ten minutes of “doing nothing” or time out, or meditation, (or giving up coffee or French fries should be approached).

As a purposeful ten minutes of being quiet and still (or, if you giving up something, the urges and temptation for whatever you’ve given up can be a reminder of the need to stay in connection to God).

My pastor also talked about renewing strength like an eagle. Maybe we can approach the ten minutes of doing nothing like a recharging of the battery. Like with your cell phone.

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Does that help? Power up! A spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Action: In your meditation time today, think of it as the most exciting gift you can give yourself all day. It is a banquet. A hike to the top of a mountain. A chance to listen to the waves roll in at the shore. It is a wondrous place you can come to at any time.

 

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