Lent has come at a good time for me this year. I feel a greater sense of purpose and timing this year due to the circumstances of my life and my desire to hear God's call for the next phase of ministry. I therefore feel more compelled to observe this time and use it to devote myself to a season of drawing near, questioning and listening. Most of that will probably be directed towards God, some of it to fellow sojourners. I want to let go of some things (alcohol and TV) so as to be able to take hold of other things (listening prayer, Scripture and friendships).
I sense the call to personal examination but also community examination so my hope is that others within my community will join me in different ways. Over the last few weeks, as we have worked with 2 groups of people looking at the process of spiritual formation and the place of spiritual direction to that end, one Scripture has been uppermost in my mind. "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." [Mark 8:34-5] These words were spoken to the disciples and the crowd following, and interestingly come just after Jesus' rebuke of Peter for not having in mind the concerns of God (his own crucifixion). Hence the "joy" of sacrifice and suffering! I sense God wanting to speak more deeply to me through these words.
If you are connected with us and the work here in Austin, TX, then I want to invite you along to use this season in your own way so that we might be led to a deeper trust in the promises of God and a willingness to repent of any self-obsessed self-protection that has put us more in line with Satan's rebellion than the Son's submission to the Father. We have been learning about the cycle of transformation for the Christ-follower that always begins with brokenness leading to repentance and a yielding to the Spirit. This brings new revelation (an unveiling of what already is) bringing confidence and a release of the Spirit's life.
For now though, through a time of renewed consecration, our focus is the first part of the cycle - brokenness, repentance and yielding to God. Hence the desire to be still and to listen ... to God and to one another. Let us invite the Lord to speak into our communal life and to reveal his call upon our lives for his glory. I have been thinking much recently about place, wondering where the 'right' place is for this time. Carol and I are currently living in an inbetween place (or so it seems), but maybe that is always the case when we think geographically. The place God wants us is in His Son, following Jesus on pilgrimage and on mission. There's no other place I'd rather be but sometimes I am distracted by rabbit trails, or just simply fall off the path. Fortunately I can continue to lay hold of another promise of God found in the Psalms;