Return to the Ground (Saturday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. Luke 15:31
“Well, it’s the first Saturday of Lent…I guess I can’t have too much fun today,” said a long-time churchgoer in the first church that I served as a pastor. He told me that he had given up chocolate and alcohol for Lent, and asked me what I had given up this year.
“I’ve given up being inattentive,” I said. He looked at me confused, as if this was some sort of ploy to get out of doing the real work of Lenten self-discipline.
The reality is, my heart is so fickle and so easily satisfied by cheap imitations of Love that I’d have to give up just about everything good-and-God-given to do Lent ‘right.’ But maybe Lent isn’t about giving up our favorite treats or doing self-discipline right. Perhaps Lent is about becoming aware – through daily attentiveness - to the reality that we are created-from-the-dust-living-spirits, that we are enough, that everything we need and long for is already ours in Christ.
When the young rebellious son returned to his father after squandering his inheritance (Luke 15), his father didn’t put him through a behavior modification program. In a revolutionary act of love, the father gave him a ring, a robe, new sandals, and a welcome home feast. Enjoy!
I wonder how long it took the son to believe this.
I wonder how many times after that he sabotaged his father’s love – “Dad, what can I do to prove it to you?”
I wonder about the mental and behavioral gymnastics we go through to prove our love, too.
His father gave him back the very ordinary, creaturely things to remind him, once again, not only that he was human, but that he was his son. In simple gestures – a ring, a robe, sandals, and a feast – he was communicating to him that he’d not fallen out of favor but he’d fallen into goodness.
In the meantime, his older brother burned with anger. He was living a perpetual toxic form of Lent, striving to be the ever-dutiful son, proving to his father that he loved him by giving up the pleasures of the world. He could not fathom his father’s generosity and delight. For him, faith was a meritocracy, and he was winning. And yet, his father comes to him and says, “Everything I have is yours.” Just look around. Touch it. Taste it. Experience it. This isn’t a ladder-climbing exercise in self-discipline, but an awakening to the reality that you, in all your brokenness, are unfathomably loved. Fall into goodness, son!
Isn’t it interesting that both sons questioned whether they were enough in their father’s eyes? Both sons went looking elsewhere, one to parties and pleasures and another to duty and discipline. And neither found it!
It’s the first Saturday in Lent. Did you wake up today thinking, “Well, it’s Lent. I better make sure I don’t break the rules”? Are you already wondering why you chose to give up Netflix rather than something simpler? Perhaps it’s not too late to re-imagine Lent for yourself.
Everything God has is yours. Can you see it? Can you taste it? Or are you preoccupied and distracted? You need not look elsewhere. You, the one created by God, are enough. You are the beloved daughter or son.
Perhaps Lent is about paying attention. Perhaps Lent is about removing the blinders of our illusory life of self-fulfillment in order to feast on the Life that is already ours in Jesus.
Ever present God, I am prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the One I love. I am distracted, distant, and disconnected, plugged in to the approval of others, the stimulation of social media, the pursuit of security. Help me to rest in the abundant love that is already, infinitely mine in Jesus. Amen