40 Days

I’ve been vaguely pondering this thing called Lent recently. Mainly I’ve been trying to not ponder it because of the angsty moments Christians seem to have about it. There are two main camps on the issue, those that are embracing the chance to get a bit more focus in their day to day living and remember Jesus by giving up something or taking up something and those that are delighting in the freedom that they don’t have to. Sometimes everyone becomes a bit too smug about their interpretation of what Lent is or isn’t about and whether we should be celebrating it. That’s really the problem, it’s kind of up to you whether you want to chose to partake in this festival or not, being shouty about whether we should or shouldn’t be doing it isn’t going to help, nor is parading your Lent virtues or rejection of the whole thing. I think Jesus told us to do somethings behind closed doors for a reason. Fasting or not fasting is between you and God, and maybe a few close friends to help you along the way.

At the very least (failing not to nail my colours to the mast here..) Lent is a brilliant lead into Easter, reminding us of our broken weak state and setting us a marker point in the sand as we see again our need of a cup, a tree and an empty grave.

Whenever I’ve thought about stuff I might do or not do for Lent I generally come up with a list of things that really should be part of my life anyway as part of living well in this walk with the Maker thing. One of those is thankfulness. Thankfulness seems to have a strange kind of power in our lives, a lack of it leads to not being content, fear, forgetting who is in charge of this world. Last night in our small group we read these words from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Giving thanks takes us out of ourselves and puts the emphasis on someone else, giving thanks in all circumstances is a world away from the slightly insane notion of giving thanks for all circumstances, giving thanks brings a recognition that there is someone to thank.

I’m not all that great at giving thanks in all circumstances, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to me because above all this is God’s will for my life. I spend lots of time trying to work out if I’m doing God’s will and worrying about where my life is going. I really should pay more attention to the glaringly obvious truth in front of me. Here it is, God’s will for my life, the thing we all want to know. It is:

Be joyful, pray and give thanks.

In every circumstance I find myself in.

Maybe God really is more concerned about the direction of our hearts than that exact place where we can feel like we’re fulfilling our destiny in life.

All these preamble leads me to a choice. I can choose to be thankful and I’m going to try and do that here. Each day. Not to show off about my amazing life to the world (3 readers who still read this blog) but to have a space to remember each day that there are things to be thankful for. Finding them might be fun. Finding them in the black days that descend on my mind will be a challenge but it might just be worth it to attempt to follow God’s will for my life.

Anyone want to join me?

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6 Responses to 40 Days

  1. Sarah says:

    This sounds like a brilliant idea. I want to encourage you being proactively thankful – and join in too! How can we do this?

  2. pilgrimKath says:

    Well, you have a blog- so on it- for each day write what you are thankful for that day 🙂 we’ll link in- and if anyone else wants to join they can either start a blog or tweet or facebook what they are thankful for 🙂

    Sound good?

    love you!

    • Sarah says:

      My blog is far too frivolous for such things as this…. So I’ve joined Ros in commenting on yours day by day.

  3. John Walker says:

    I think you touch on the reason why I can be guilty of falling into the being smug about not doing it camp.

    I think, as you say, the idea of doing something positive, or not doing something negative, for 40 days is in danger of cheapening the point. Just don’t do the negative thing, or always do the positive thing! Surely that’s what Jesus wants from us?

    So I’m really glad you’re making the “and beyond” point. I think Lent, if taken seriously, could be about lifestyle changes.

    Clearly if it’s about fasting something you love for 40 days, that’s somewhat different, but then if I gave up any of the few things I enjoy every day I’d be such intolerable company people would be forcing me to take them up again. (It’s quite sad that I’m struggling to think of things, and one of them is decaf coffee – I need more vices.)

    But I also think “not eating chocolate for 40 days” or whatever might seem to trivialise the event, and normally becomes an endurance effort, rather than an act of sacrifice. Give up chocolate forever. There’s a Lent choice.

    I suppose, in the end, I tend to think of Lent in the same way as I do Comic Relief. Comic Relief is the month every two years where people appease their guilt for international tragedy by throwing a couple of quid in a bucket, and wearing a stupid hat for a day. In the end I think it’s a potentially massively harmful day that encourages people not to support charities during the rest of their lives. Imagine what a powerful day it would be if the month beforehand and the evening of was spent encouraging people to make long-term commitments to projects, or long-term charitable giving. I wonder if Lent is the Christian equivalent? It appeases our guilt for sacrifice on an annual basis, so we don’t have to let it affect the rest of our lives?

  4. Lilian says:

    Sounds like a great plan! I will join you on occasion – and I will particularly try and do this when I don’t feel thankful – if that’s OK. Not particularly because it’s Lent, just because it’s a good thing to do for the reasons you describe above. [ See, now I’ve told you I’m going to do it I might be more likely to!]

  5. Pingback: Old school blogging, this one doesn’t even have a picture… | The Long Walk Home

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