"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
Lent begins today. Forty days ahead to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus overcame sin and death for us--the day the earth shook and the stone rolled away--the day Jesus set all-things-new-pattern into motion.
So, how do I prepare my heart in these next forty days? I've thought on this a lot lately. How do I honor the sacrifice Jesus made--laying aside his deity, his life? What hard sacrifice can I offer Him? Not something temporal so that at the end of forty days I gorge myself with chocolate and potato chips, but rather, what old pattern does God want to shake out new so that I might transform more into His likeness? What would truly cause me to desire Him more?
For me, it starts with solace. Intentionally closing out the world long enough to be still and bask in God's presence, to actually shut my mouth and open my ears to His heart whispers. Not just once in forty days. Not just once a week, but at least once a day. That's easy on the slow, snowed-in days, but not on the hectic, scheduled, everyone-demanding-me days. Those days will take supernatural intervention and discipline.
Next, it's words. Words move me more than any other form of communication. More than personal touch, quality time, acts of service, or material gifts. When I read the written word, my heart and mind have time to synchronize. I can read and reread until my heart finally feels what my mind understands. I need to sacrifice time to read God's word and the words of His saints to fill my heart and mind with the Good News and to start the renewal process; to transform my mind into His likeness; to put away the old ways of thinking, stop believing the lies my mind whispers and believe the Truth of how God sees me and those around me.
Writing words is another way I plan to prepare my heart this Lenten season. As powerful as words are to read, writing down encouraging words I hear in God's heart whispers allows my eyes to see what God's saying. It allows me to remember, revisit, reread and encourage my heart over and over again. So, over the course of the next forty days, God's calling me back to journaling His private whispers.
A fellow writer, Karen Ehman, has another great writing idea on her blog today. She's challenged her readers to write one encouraging note to a different person every day. The power of words goes beyond our own hearts and can be used to honor, encourage and lift up those in our lives we hold dear, but somehow never take time to tell them just how much they mean to us. I can't promise 40 different notes, but I will consciously sit down and send out notes.
Finally, God is calling me back to my writing passion. It's been a hard sacrifice over the past ten months as we prepped and sold our home and then moved and built onto our new home. What I thought would take only three months has now taken almost a year to complete. I knew writing would take a back seat, but it's now time to discipline myself again, with God's help, and move forward into the calling of encouraging the hearts of those who grace not only this space, but also those God's called me to write for so many years ago. It's time to write down God's words and complete the work.
Like Paul, let's not conform to this world any longer. Rather than giving up the temporal only to gorge ourselves with it again in a few short weeks, let's seek God for what He really wants to change in us. Let's let God renew our minds, start the -all-things-new process in us so that at the end of forty days we're closer to being transformed into Jesus' likeness.
May God truly have is way in us all these next forty days!
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