Lent Reflection #3

A few people at work have asked me why I participate in lent if I am not Catholic or Lutheran. I try to explain to them that I do it because I want to join with the greater Christian church in focusing more intently on Jesus' presence in my life leading up to Easter. Usually that is enough. But there is another reason which I think is best illustrated with a story.

Last week we have hired a couple new team members to boost our scheduling options during the Lent season. One of the new guys has seemed to catch on very quickly. The other guy is not coming along quite as speedily. Yesterday, while I was working with new guy #2 in the kitchen, I was having an internal struggle over how to proceed with him. On one hand I don't want to waste a lot of time and money training a guy who is not going to be around for the long haul. Yet on the other hand I was questioning my own impatience with the training process. I am the kind of person who expects people to 'get it' quickly, and I am not wired well to come alongside slower people and help them develop at an introductory level. An analogy that I really resonate with is, "It would be a much better fit for me to coach the Varsity team rather than the Junior Varsity team."

But since I believe in the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, and since I am really trying to pray and hear that voice during Lent, I spent my day with new guy #2 praying and trying to discern how God would have me handle the situation. Amazingly he spoke to me directly - through the mouth of new guy #2's. As we were cleaning up in the kitchen after the lunch period new guy #2 says to me, "Are you into religion? Like do you go to church and stuff?" I told me that yeah I am into religion and that I got ot church and he replies, "Yeah I could tell. You just have something different about you. Like there is a light shining through you or something." No lie, that's almost exactly what he said. Then we went on to talk for about 15 minutes about Jesus and salvation and what how difficult it can be for young people to wholly commit their lives to Jesus. I was blown away by how God choose to answer my prayer.

So why does I participate in lent? Because when I give something up for God, He shows up for me. And it reminds me all over again how truly glorious and powerful and close by He really is. Yesterday I went from feeling like letting the kid go, to wanting to keep him around and watching to see if God might use me to change this kid's life. Many days I wonder why the Lord has me in the place he does. I am not in a position that I love, nor I am doing something that I derive deep satisfaction from. But maybe I am where I am because God has some heart-work to do in my life, and he is using my conversations and actions with a bunch of hurting 17-22 year olds to teach me what it really means to love people. Participating in lent (by fasting) clears the way for me to see this kind of stuff more sharply.