HAPPY HAPPY EASTER!
I pray that this Easter will be your best. Audacious statement, don’t you think? But consider this… Because of our strange and unprecedented isolation, we can soak in the message of Easter with laser precision, especially since all of the other “trimmings” to our celebration can’t distract us.
Having devoted forty days of Lent, with thoughtful prayer and introspection, you are prepared for Easter. You can see the cross. You recognize your need for the cross. And today you revel in the Hope of Easter. The tomb is empty.
HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN INDEED. HALLELUJAH!
Easter changes everything. Perhaps you’re suspicious of that statement because Monday will come and nothing has changed. The pandemic persists and because of it, your future is more uncertain than ever. After investing 40 days of intentional prayer, perhaps you’re a bit discouraged. Maybe you’re not sure you’ve heard Him. Or maybe, what you’ve heard you didn’t like so you wait for a different answer. Maybe you have lost hope that He really cares for insignificant you. After all, you reason, He has bigger problems — a worldwide pandemic for starters. How do you hold onto hope when you don’t get the answer you hoped for? Easter, as it did for the disciples, brings fresh hope into dead places. Easter, changes everything.
The tomb is empty. Can you imagine? The story of Easter is preposterous. But because of those preposterous events that happened so many years ago, we have hope! Easter changes everything.
Forty Days. Congratulations. From Palm Sunday to Easter, you completed the Lenten Prayer Challenge! Well Done. PAUSE….
I know what many of you just did with that pause. Instead of celebrating victory, you feel some shame. You probably said to yourself something like this… “well kind of, maybe. But I started late. But I missed a lot of days. But some days I read words on a page and checked it off my list with no hope of having those words penetrate. But even with all of my good intentions, I have more questions than answers. But, But, But…
I can’t help but wonder… is spending time with Him really worth it anyway?
If that response rings even partially true, I have one word for you…
The ‘But self talk’ is coming from the enemy. It should NOT surprise you. The enemy fears he is losing his grip on you and has stepped up his efforts.
Maybe your prayer life has had fits and starts. And the daily email showing up in your inbox was the nudge you needed to have more starts than fits. While I’m delighted it has helped, it comes to an end. Someday … maybe I’ll write a devotional for every day… but for now you’re on your own. Maybe you’re feeling a little fragile and wondering… Where do I go from here?
Here are a few suggestions…
The acronym stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid” Forgive me for being direct. The point of the Lenten Prayer Challenge was to spend daily time with the Lord focusing on His word and giving Him reign in your heart.
What ingredients are needed for quality time with Him? Wait for it…
YOUR. UNDISTRACTED. SELF.
I do agree that a favorite translation of scripture helps, as does a devotional and a journal, especially if this is a new habit. But those tools are secondary. If you load up on a stack of new devotionals and set out to read every one every morning… you have missed the point. To some extent, time with Him is measured by quality, not quantity. Whatever content you read, include time for Him to speak to you. Give Him your undistracted self.
There are a million great devotionals out there. My favorites include Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest. To choose one you’ll love visit a Christian bookstore and browse. Ask a respected Christ follower what his or her favorite is.
Now that the Lenten prayer challenge has ended, don’t wait to establish a new plan to meet with Him consistently in prayer. JUST DO IT. Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable. Agree to a weekly check in to review any insights, any transforming scripture, any fresh understanding.
We are forgetful. We revel in God’s faithfulness one week, when we breathe a sigh of relief from some good news. And then the next week our memory gets clouded when faced with bad news. I recommend you continue to use a journal. A journal serves as a record of God’s hand in your life. Over time it becomes a powerful written testimony to His faithfulness.
Habakkuk 2:2 (NLT) Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”
What if you just don’t feel like it. Do it anyway. Be obedient. It isn’t about feelings. It does make a difference. An eternal difference. Frankly it is the most significant investment you can ever make. The return on your investment is 100% guaranteed.
John 16:7 “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
You are not left alone. Remember from Day 37… We have the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve always had the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that can intercede for us, when we don’t feel like it. It’s the Holy Spirit that speaks truth to our heart when things don’t make sense. It’s the Holy Spirit that provides comfort through any kind of storm or uncertainty. Come Holy Spirit.
Father God, I praise you for Your Omnipotence and your Omniscience. What a gift it is that You, the All-powerful, All knowing, All loving creator of the universe longs for me to know You personally. I confess that knowing a transcendent God feels elusive. It’s because I try to understand You instead of trusting You. Thank you for Grace and Mercy that invites me to meet with you, no matter what. Thank you for loving me in spite of my fickle obedience. Thank you for the gift of Your Presence and Peace that passes all understanding. Moving forward, help me Father, to keep prayer a priority. Help me to trust you when I don’t understand you. Help me to know that time in prayer is an eternal investment. Help me to come to you with my undistracted self. Amen.
During Holy Week 2020, a faithful Lenten Pray-er sent me this picture. He discovered this on his walk, when it “jumped out at him.” In closing, carry this truth with you. Because of Easter… we all get to claim it.
He is Risen Indeed,