Lenten Reflections: Making Space For the TRULY Holy

If you’ve ever spent even a minute in an museum of art you’ve probably run across some old paintings where saints are signified with round rings of light over their heads.

Halos were meant to be a shorthand for identifying the truly righteous from ordinary folk.

Problem is, more often than not the standards applied by those making the distinction are not the true standards God reveals in His word and by the example of Jesus, His Son.

So today we are fasting halos-false definitions of holy-and making room for the TRULY holy which often makes us uncomfortable.

Jesus’ emotions and actions in the days following the Triumphal Entry were something less (far less) than placid. He wept over Jerusalem, forcefully cleared the temple, cursed a fig tree, confounded religious leaders, told pointed parables, and experienced emotional distress.

Alicia Britt Chole

It is so hard for those of us who grew up listening to simplified Bible stories to embrace the fact (the marvelous and very critical FACT) that Jesus was fully human and fully God.

He didn’t only come to sacrifice Himself as a propitiation for sin, He came to live an authentic yet perfect human life in fulfillment of the Law’s every requirement.

So when we see Him angry, sad, dismayed, lonely, agonized, grieved-those are not unholy emotions.

I can’t stand the images of Jesus that portray Him as a soft, ephemeral, other-worldly cardboard cutout of a man. I don’t know what He looked like but I’m certain it wasn’t like that.

My Shepherd King is a real Person who experienced real life and real emotions. He understands loss and love and betrayal and passion.

So I don’t have to pretend that I don’t.

I’ve always told my kids that some folks try hard to be holier than God.

And it’s true-trying to circumscribe the human experience so that it fits inside some kind of false holiness is futile.

We can bring all our emotions and experiences to the Throne of Grace where our Great High Priest can sanctify and modify them for His purposes and glory.

Today, fast the halos of false definitions of holy. Ask God where He is weeping in your life and in the world and join Him there. It is never weakness to grieve where God is grieving.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

I Must Decrease-Making Room For Jesus. Lent As Invitation, Not Obligation.

Although I have observed Lent off and on for many, many years, it’s different for me now in a profound way.

Some of you know but may have forgotten that Dominic was killed the Saturday before Palm Sunday and buried the Monday after Resurrection Sunday, 2014.

Each year since then I’ve felt like I had to endure two sets of “anniversaries” because his death date and burial date are not only days of the month but also marked by moveable church celebrations.

It has been very, very hard.

As the sun rises earlier each morning in spring, the weather turns brighter and the flowers bloom, my heart grows heavier and heavier. I want to crawl in a hole and wait for the time to slide by-as if not noticing will make a difference.

But I can’t. Life must be lived, not only endured.

So I am choosing this year to try to guide my heart gently through this hard season with purposeful action that will force me to engage with God’s Word, with God’s people and with God Himself.

I know that if I don’t create space and place to prioritize my time with Jesus, to reflect on my life, to purpose to re-align my choices with ones that are more consistent with what I say I believe, then it won’t happen.

Life is full of distractions, temptations and I’m just plain lazy.

There are so many ways to observe Lent! Most of us are familiar with fasting a favorite food or beverage or giving up some entertainment or habit. That’s a fine way to focus on denying our flesh and meditating on Christ.

But this Lenten season I’ll be doing something different.

Last year I was introduced to a book, FORTY DAYS OF DECREASE by Alicia Britt Chole. It’s focus is more on fasting attitudes and actions rather than tangible things.

It was challenging but I loved it so I’m doing it again.

It helped change my approach to the whole season from one of obligation (almost of penance) to thinking of it as an invitation to sit at the feet of my Shepherd King.

If I’m honest, I need to learn this holy habit more than any other-listening instead of always doing, doing, doing.

I’d really like some company and some comments if any of you would join me on this journey! I’ll be sharing my own insights and reflections one day behind so those who want to participate won’t be influenced by my opinion.

If you’ve read the blog for very long, you know full well that God and I have wrestled more than a few rounds.

I don’t have it “figured out”.

But I’m willing to stay in the ring.

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