PASTOR BOB CAVE
A Lenten reading for the heart of re-Lent. - Why is the principle of fasting, the practice of “giving up something” during Lent, so important to those who claim to be a Christ-follower? Because the human heart is fickle. We become divided.
Our attention and our focus wanders. We claim that we love Jesus more than anything. We claim Him as the Lord of our lives.
Then - as is true for all loves - life encroaches with its business and its distractions. The “heart” of our passion for Jesus becomes cluttered with many things. If we are not careful, Christ can be crowded to the side.
This is why the prophet Joel heard the LORD God command the practice of “giving up” whatever clutters our hearts away from Him:
“‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Joel 2:12-13a NIV
Lent is a practice of “rending the heart” not of “rending our garments.” We are capable of only going through the motions, of relegating Lent to religion. What God wants from us is not religion, but relationship. If we are honest with ourselves, we will truly examine our relationships with Jesus.
When we are tempted by whatever we are fasting, we are reminded to “rend our hearts” of whatever keeps us from experiencing the first love of the LORD.
Whenever we struggle with the hunger for others things, we have the opportunity to cry out to God’s Spirit for strength. Like David, we pray: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Our reLENTless pursuit of God during these days is our focus. It is not what we are giving up or how difficult it is but how close to God are we becoming during this intense time of looking inside to be sure that what is in there is relational, intimate, close.
Wow! This can get intense! I am so ready for that!