I love March. Hints of Spring turn into full blossoms and mass colors in March. Birds sing a little more loudly in the morning. Windows can be left open in this wonderful transition between the cold of winter and the impending heat that will accompany the summer.
Yep, I love March. March is also my birthday month which also might influence my love of the month, as if the promise of Spring wasn’t enough!
As I entered 2019 I asked the Lord to give me a word to focus on as I journey with Him. It isn’t something I always do, and if I’m being really honest when I have done it in the past, by March I have usually forgotten what it was and moved on to other things! But this year the calendar turned to March 1stand my word is staying with me. It is running around my heart and mind. It surfaces whenever I still myself.
The word is simply "Presence". My prayer has been that I would experience the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit more and more. That I would be able to say with growing frequency that I enjoy simply being in His Presence.
Coming from a long line of theologians, I have always been good at knowing what I should think, and even what to teach about who God is and how He wants to interact with us. But then there is experience. Even this morning as I sat and attempted to quiet my mind and heart and just practice being, I struggled to keep the long list of doing from taking over.
I heard a teacher recently say that he wouldn’t hire a person who knew the theory of something but had never experienced it or successfully implemented that theory in the real world. As a person who has hired lots of college graduates with business degrees, I agreed with him!Yet honest reflection tells me there are many places in my walk with Jesus where I “know” what is true but have very little experience walking it out. Even as I’ve studied and spent time with the passage I will be preaching on this coming Sunday, this chasm between what I know and what I experience has loomed large and caused some discomfort in my spirit.
That realization allows me one more reason to celebrate March.
March is also when Lent begins. Lent is the forty day period leading up to Easter where we begin to prepare ourselves to once again think deeply about the sacrifice that Jesus made when He went to the cross to die on our behalf. Where we prepare ourselves to celebrate with abandon the incredible truth of His resurrection and the life we can now have because of what He did.
During Lent many Christians give up or fast something for forty days. For some it is a specific food like chocolate, or a category of food, like desserts or fast food. Some give up specific things that take up lots of time, like watching television or hanging out on Facebook. Below you can see a word cloud from 2018 showing a few things that made the list for people last year.
The purpose isn’t to earn spiritual brownie points or make God love us more, it is to put ourselves in a place where we are humble and honest about our sin, hungry for God, and open to His refining work in our lives. Fasting allows us to create some intentional space to think about who God is and who we are in light of the cross.
Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday, which happens to be today, March 6th.
I encourage you to think about fasting something during this season so you can welcome the Presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit into your days. As I choose my fast this year, it is with the continued goal of desiring to experience more of the Presence of God in my life.
Blessings on your March and on your Easter preparation.