My friend Phil has dubbed my Lenten behaviour electric. I am enjoying such a label. It is certainly the most exciting and meaningful Lent I have ever known. This year, the 40 Acts Challenge has forced me to consider Lent as a season of preparation not simply sacrifice: as Jesus prepared himself for the cross and resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem so his followers prepare themselves for a life that looks life his. Yes, such a life is one of sacrifice, of choosing to put others first, of in humility honouring others before ourselves but such sacrificial generosity is not drudgery. It is joyful. And thus, alongside my big-hearted ambition to bless others this Lent, I am also undertaking a ferocious pursuit of JOY.
G.K. Chesterton writes of God's joy like this: "Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I want to be young this Lent and so each day I have been trying to send a joy abounding text. I've decided that others might want to keep track of my joyful pursuit thus I am also posting these texts here:
Tuesday 4th March 2014:
It is a beautifully crisp, sunn spring morning. The air is cold on my minted teeth and my breath belongs to a dragon. My feet crunch in the most satisfactory way over a thin scattering of frost that hugs itself round blades of grass and spiders' webs. The sky is not quite a peerless blue, its rim still tinted with the early morning haze of sunrise and lifting mist. The birds are alerting the world to the breaking of a new and glorious day, a gift of God for our enjoyment. This lent I am taking up the discipline of celebration, of recognising the reign of God in the ordinary, of being glad. Join me.
Wednesday 5th March 2014:
To continue with my rejoicing theme: what an amazing way to start the day: to get a text from a young person at 6:47am saying that she is praying for me. God. Is. Good. Happy Wednesday.
Thursday 6th March 2014:
The grand joy challenge. Day 3. Today's top joyful tip. God for a run. Stop in the middle of a random field. Check no one's watching and play Dizzy Dinosaurs with your heavenly Dad smiling on as you tip your face up to heaven and remember that you're his kid and he delights in you being just a little bit foolish. Here's to more silliness in our lives as we recognise God's joyful presence in our midst.
Friday 7th March 2014:
Bit more of a struggle to be joyful today as Im tired and grumpy and sweaty after a high speed cycle across a town full of irritating pedestrians! But rejoice. I say it again. Rejoice. Not because I feel but because He says. And so I choose rejoicing. Rejoicing in the pattern of light and shadows dancing upon clouds, in the act of breathing in deep down into my lungs and out again, in the first bite of an apple, in recognition that God's love is such that he cares intimately for each man, woman, child, student, granny. traveller upon this crowded train platform and has oh so much more time and patience for them than I do. I have three chocolate lindt bunnies in my bag bought on an impulse with the intention of giving away. Pray for the right recipients as I pray that I would have oh so much more time and patience for the wonder of God;s intricately created humanity.
Saturday 8th March 2014
What did you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7. This morning as the Derby sky is tinged with tangerine pink and the clouds look like animations from a Disney film, I am rejoicing in what God has given me for use in his Kingdom. Each of us is unique in our giftedness and those precious gifts are given to us that we might give away. To each is given for the good of the other. 1 Corinthians 12:7. And thus my creativity, painting, fincances, baking, dancing, energy, knowledge, speaking, guitaring, thinking...is my personal storehouse. Not a barn to be expanded and expanded and expanded but a resource to be poured out poured out poured out. Blessed to bless. What can I give cheerfully, joyfully, surprisingly today? For all that is not given is lost.