It is quiet here this morning. Joe has taken the grandboys fishing and I am getting ready to rev up the preparations for our big celebration—26 plus friends and family—for Easter brunch after church tomorrow. But for now, I sit in the quiet, pondering those hours inbetween, that drawn-out day when no one quite knew what was to come, when Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but had not yet shown up to shock the world with His presence and shower humanity with resurrection hope.
I feel like I know these inbetween seasons so well… these times when one thing has ended, but something else hasn’t yet begun, when the old has been sucked away, but the new has not yet dawned with its expectant promise.
The inbetween is, for me, the hardest of all—when a hole in my heart waits to be filled, when an empty tomb reminds me that my future hangs in the balance. I’m living in the vortex of one right now, and not a day goes by that I don’t wait in silence before the Lord, wondering what will unfold…and when…and how. Anxiety threatens my peace, fear assaults my steadfast resolve.
I read a story once of a trapeze artist who said that the most agonizing moment in every show is when they have let go of one bar, but haven’t yet taken hold of the next. There, suspended in midair, they know nothing but the beating of their own hearts.
This, I think, is what this Sabbatum Sanctum, this suspension between crucifixion and resurrection represents for us. The inbetween...hanging midair with only the sound of our own heartbeat. Through the centuries, the church has labeled this day many things—Holy Saturday, Black Saturday, and the Great Sabbath. My personal favorite is just Easter Eve, the reminder that the inbetween I am living, though it can feel as if it will never end, will one day face the dawning of resurrection light. It always has. This is my hope.
In case you missed it: kandi pfieffer and i talk about what we love about jesus in our final lent live conversation.
Last year an old friend dropped me a line via email, connecting me with another friend of hers, because in her words, we "had some common threads." Her friend was Alicia Britt Chole. Since then the two of us have had some email and book exchanges and let me tell you, this woman inspires and challenges me. I love her deep humility and love for Jesus and the beautiful way she puts words together. As I started going through her book, Forty Days of Decrease for Lent, I wanted to get a little more from her--even an inside scoop on her own Lenten journey, so I asked her a couple of questions, and she readily acquiesced. I know you will be blessed by this guest blog. A little heads up--this woman will make you think! Oh, and she was once an atheist and now runs a spiritual retreat center with her husband!
You say in your book that God is more interested in what we are becoming than what we are giving up for Lent. Often it seems we can't tell what God is doing when we are engaged in various Lenten practices. How can we know we are "becoming" as a result of our fasts and not just giving things up?
What a great question! Becoming is, on one level, a function of sheer existence. The direction and depth of becoming, however, is a function of our focus. If the focus of our fasting is relational, I think our "becoming" -- i.e., coming into greater be-ing -- is assured. The good news is that our understanding is not the author nor the great assessor of that becoming. In other words, our becoming isn't on pause, awaiting the emergence of accurate vocabulary in our minds.
My comment: I think she's telling us that if we are focused on our relationships with God and others during Lent, we can be confident we are "becoming" or "coming into greater be-ing." That is such encouraging news. No matter how you think your Lenten journey has gone, cling to this lovely morsel!
How would you recommend we take the gains of Lent and invest them into the future? (People say they'd like to continue Lent practices, but we often don't).
I talk a lot more about this in my next book (The Sacred Slow: A Holy Departure from Fast Faith). As a spiritual mentor, I encourage leaders to live heaven-down. Earth-up living starts with what we can see and measure; with what we like and dislike. Many self-improvement lists and New Year's resolutions are created earth-up. Earth-up living gifts us with realism, but rarely with grace.
My comment: I can't wait to get her new book--coming out in September--preorder or read about it here!
To take the gains of Lent into the future, consider adding heaven-down living to such realism. Heaven-down living begins with listening prayer and responds with intentionality. A simple prayer, "God, what would please You in this season?" can guide us to focus upon components of Lent not for the sake of the components but because that's where Jesus' companionship is leading us.
My comment: The simplicity of that--listening prayer and intentionality--is captivating. My takeaway is that Lent is not a side road in our spiritual journey, but a continuation of what God has been doing in and through us--or where Jesus has been and is now leading us.
Love is what turns disciplines into offerings. With love, fasting is relational just as feasting is relational. After Lent, I will ask Jesus what would please Him as I head into our Spring/Summer. Though I probably will not hear anything audible or see anything tangible, I will have a longing, a leaning, a hunger, or an interest in a practice or purpose. Whether that looks more like the fasting of Lent or more like the feasting of Pentecost, if I do it with Jesus and in Jesus, I'm pretty sure that He smiles.
My comment: ...a longing, a leaning, a hunger, or an interest in a practice or purpose. Consider what this might be for you and press into it as Lent comes to an end. Then sit back and feast on the smile of Jesus! Thanks Alicia for some words that we can feed on for a long while.
IF THIS SHORT INTERVIEW LEFT YOU WANTING MORE:
Watch a video of Alicia talking about how to process pain in light of the cross here.
Visit her website and take a look around--great resources here!
As we enter Holy Week, I pray you will experience the wonder of redeeming love like never before!
Join me for my final Lent Live on facebook this Wednesday at 6pm. Click here.
THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET CHRISTIANS DON'T TALK MUCH ABOUT: If you missed last week, Kandi Pfeiffer joined me and I know you'll be blessed as you listen. It includes some great and practical teaching and I promise it will make you laugh!
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Passionate about spiritual formation, slightly obsessed with technology and the soul, author of 8 books, affiliate professor at Fuller Seminary, wife of one, mom of two, grandma of four.