In the 40 days leading to Easter, a day of celebrating the promise of the resurrection—and indulging in jelly beans and chocolate—many Jesus followers observe Lent, a time to pause, reflect and dig deeper into spiritual disciplines. Lenten traditions include giving up frivolous things like Facebook (trending for 2014), or fasting from certain kinds of foods. Others choose to take on new challenges, such as community service, a gratitude journal, or sharing prayers as a family. On Monday, the Fairfax.cc community started reading through the New Testament together in order to reconnect with scripture. (If this reading plan is news to you, listen to the full sermon here.)
For the past few years I have leveraged Lenten momentum to infuse my prayer life. I stumbled upon a devotional book called “Lenten Prayers for Busy People” by William O’Malley, which has become my tradition. As appealing as the title is on its own, there’s more to this story. I’m only 50% ashamed to share that I originally chose the book because Father O’Malley is not just a writer, but also a real-life Catholic priest, who then played a Catholic priest in ”The Exorcist” movie. In my mind, a man who takes his job as a faith-leader seriously enough to be a technical advisor in THAT kind of environment must have something to teach me about developing a durable faith and prayer life!
Each morning, the devotional starts out with this dedication prayer:
Lenten Dedication by William O’Malley
God, my Friend,
I offer You each moment of this day:
whatever comes—the unexpected challenges,
diversions from my plans,
the need-filled glance,
the expectations and complaints,
the being taken for granted,
the slights and sleights-of-hand.
I’d be grateful if You could keep me aware of my pesky habits, like…
And, between us, perhaps we can enliven the spirits of those I live and work with, like… .
Whatever else befalls,
I trust we can cope with it,
Everyone can find something worthy of introspection in this text. Regardless of your occupation, I suspect you’ve faced battles with unexpected challenges and diversions from “the plan.” What about those feelings of being taken for granted by your boss, your children, or your clients? These disappointments can sneak up on us, sap motivation, amplify sarcasm, and suck the joy right out of the day. However, when we approach it all in partnership with God, our focus changes. These circumstances become more manageable, and we draw strength by focusing on the bigger picture.
Now, what about the dot-dot-dot? How do our “pesky habits” impact us and those around us? Traditionally, comments on repentance are delivered by the good folks in the “church” channel, but here at Blue, we shake things up. So, I ask you, what workplace habits have you developed that you need to repent? Jealousy? Gossip? Grudges? Short temper? The list goes on, and it’s not so pleasant to inventory our shortcomings. Thankfully, God is in the business of handling it (Psalm 51:10-12, 139:23-24). Can we connect with the season of repentance and unburden ourselves of bad habits and attitudes? (This is where I am hoping all of that New Testament reading will “kick in.”)
How about the “needful glances” and acts to “enliven the spirits of those I live and work with”? That alone could take 40 days! I’m aware that the days I don’t have energy for people (or things) outside of myself are the same days that I am drowning in agenda or letting my attitudes get the best of me. By digging into scripture and prayer, we can yield to deviations in plan, acknowledge our weaknesses, and find strength and patience to be gracious to others. Perhaps we can even get back to the place where asking, “How are you?” is a genuine question, and not just a mumbled greeting in an elevator.
Ultimately, this is not about the giving up or the taking on. It’s about giving ALL. Today I resolve, with God’s help, to embrace my work, take notice of needs around me, and try to let go of some bad habits. I hope you’ll join me in embracing this Lenten season.
Photo Source: Naptime Diaries