As longer time readers may recall, I observed Lent last year for the first time. You can read about my experience in a series of posts I wrote, starting with this one.
So I thought I’d do it again this year. Why? Well, any practice that gets me to think more about Jesus and The Father is a pretty good thing I reckon. But in saying that I don’t want to get too religious about it which in this case means I’m doing something for the sake of doing it, rather than truly seeking Him. Often less is more, if that makes sense.
I didn’t want to work through many devotionals as I sometimes do, but rather to focus on the one. I was alerted to one focusing on some of the writings of Henri Nouwen so I thought I’d work my way through that one.
Last year you might recall I joined Margaret Feinberg’s global community who read the entire Bible in the 40 days. Golly gosh, Batman. I can still recall the mental exhaustion and post-Easter Bible-reading letdown I experienced. But I’m so pleased I did it.
Margaret and her crew are at it again this year but focusing ONLY on the New Testament. I’ve loved reading through the Gospels and Acts and am particularly excited about working through Paul’s epistles in quick succession.
We’ve all read many times the account of when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. One of the first Nouwen devotionals put me in the disciples place, picturing Jesus kneeling at my feet, with sponge, warm water and towel about to wash them.
Like Peter, I immediately protested. Not because my feet were smelly, no but that I didn’t feel worthy of such unselfish love and tender touch.
“It’s okay, Ian, let me do this,” rang through my mind. After expressing my discomfort to Jesus, I sat back and allowed myself to savor the moment.
“Thank you,” I whispered as tears rolled down my cheeks. Something happened in that moment that has stayed with me ever since. It’s helped me focus on Jesus each day as I evoke the experience. I want more of Him, much more.
If you’ve never done that before I’d encourage you to take some time to experience it as you read John 13 or mediate on these words from Henri Nouwen:
“O Lord, you kneel before me; you hold my naked feet in your hands, and you look up at me and smile. Within me I feel the protest arising, ‘No, Lord, you shall never wash my feet.’ It is as if I were resisting the love you offer me. I want to say, ‘You don’t really know me, my dark feelings, my pride, my lust, my greed… No, I am not good enough to belong to you… But you look at me with utter tenderness…”1
Does a protest rise up in you? If so, share it with Jesus. You might be surprised how He responds.
How did it feel?
How are you reflecting on Lent this year?
Grace and peace, my dear friends.
Note: 1. “Heart Speaks to Heart”, Henri Nouwen, Ave Maria Press, 1989, p 28