Last year during Lent, I gave up reading books on all days except Sabbath.
I abstained from fiction and non-fiction, from dissecting marvelous sentences. I let go of extracting meaning through a good story. In the beginning, this seemed sacrificial somehow, a surrendering I had secretly hoped for years God wouldn’t require of me. By day forty, the relinquishment wasn’t as painful as I always assumed.
Like most things, overcoming the fear of uncertainty is often more difficult to conquer than what God asks of us.
With one day a week to luxuriate with a book other than the Bible, the discipline helped me to notice the ways I am often shackled by too many choices.
In our culture where individualization is such a high value, the options leave most of us second guessing whether we picked the “best” among a myriad of good options.
What song on my IPod will inspire my thinking most on a 30-minute walk?
What dress from the collection in my closet will garner the best impression?
What book from the stack will challenge me the most?
Am I in the mood for steak or seafood from the menu?
Ever order something at a restaurant and regret that you didn’t pick what she ordered instead? Or wish you would’ve spent those precious spare moments reading something more inspiring instead of that magazine article with a terrible ending?
Just two days ago, I said out loud to my family after watching the Grammy’s, “I wish I could get those hours back.”
When choices are limited, we’re grateful for what we have right in front of us.
Remember when we only had five television channels instead of hundreds? And only one network played Saturday morning cartoons? Okay, perhaps I’m dating myself.
More isn’t always a sign of blessing. More can become an allowance for choosing the good at the expense of God’s best. Instead of contentment, we ache with soul hunger that cannot be satiated.
If time becomes a possession manipulated with our choices, we can miss God’s divine interruptions.
“My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work,” writes Henri Nouwen.
Jesus’ ministry was riddled with interruptions from ordinary people like fisherman, blind men, dying children, women with health issues, and hungry crowds. He was more concerned with seeing people than keeping track of his time.
This year for Lent, I am releasing a grip on time as a possession. Time isn’t a possession, it is what God possesses and then extends to us as a gift.
I long to lean into daily interruptions, overcome fear of uncertainty, and trust in the mystery of what God asks of me. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I’m expectant.
Beginning February 18, the first day of Lent, I’ll be publishing stories here once a week inspired by the Gospel readings from Margaret Feinberg’s Lent Challenge. Over 50,000 people are reading the Gospels together during the forty days of Lent. I would love for you to join us.
Once a week, for conversation and accountability, I’ll check in with those of you who join me on my Redemptions Beauty Book Club page. If you aren’t already a member, just request to be added to the group. Find out more about the Lent Challenge here and download a reading plan or the YouVersion reading guide. I look forward to doing this with you!
Are you giving up anything for Lent this year? Tell me about what you did last year in the comments.