Belly Button Lent (and the art of spiritual navel-gazing)

Sometimes I should work harder to resist puns – and some of you would say that this is one of those times. I obviously disagree.

We are approaching Ash Wednesday much more quickly than I would like due to my level of preparation for said day. However, regardless of my readiness, here it comes. And that’s a good thing. Ash Wednesday is a good day that begins the helpful season of Lent.

Lent, for good or bad, can be understood as a time of spiritual-navel gazing. It’s a time to examine where we are in our relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s a time to consider how the fruit of the Spirit is growing and ripening in our lives. We need times like to look at where we are so we can be confident of where we’re going.

So, where are you with Jesus? Are you living the life he asks you to live? Are you taking on the challenge of thinking of others more than yourself? Are you being generous? Are you taking time to pray? Do you hide God’s Word in your heart? Are you looking after the widows and the orphans? Are you going out into the world as God sends you – like a sheep among the wolves?

I think the spirit of Lent, this season of self-examination is a time to consider where we are in regard to this standard set forth by Jesus:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Lent is time when many people give up something in their life. I have heard lately that some will be giving up Facebook. Others plan to give up their normal routine of eating out at restaurants. Others stop watching TV or give up Diet Coke (one of those will probably be my commitment).

None of those things mentioned are evil in the eyes of God. We don’t give them up to please God. We give up things during Lent because it helps train us. It allows us to see that we really can deny ourselves. We have, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, the strength to put aside our own desire and instead serve the greater good. It shows us that we can leave behind what we think we want and instead take hold of the challenge to follow Jesus – even when those challenges are really tough.

It’s a good lesson to learn. It’s an important exercise to go through if we really want to find a life worth living. So, I would invite you to consider a time of self-denial and spiritual navel-gazing. Take time as we head toward Easter to consider how willing you are to let go of the life you have and take hold of the life God has for you.

What will you give up? How will you help train your spirit to let go? What do you expect to find during this season of spiritual navel-gazing? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to live your life with Jesus Christ?

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

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One response to “Belly Button Lent (and the art of spiritual navel-gazing)

  1. I always give up either sodas or chocolate. Since I don’t drink sodas anymore…as of Jan 31st…I will give up chocolate. But I like to ADD something as well as give up something. The Lenten Devotional booklets will let me ADD to my morning devotions. Some days I try but don’t always have time for morning devotions, but as with the Advent Devotional, the Lenten Devotional booklet will keep me on track. I won’t miss a day. And hopefully keep it up after the season is over.

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