Pastor Dan Hollis
“Giving up something for Lent” was never a part of my life growing up. It wasn’t part of my family’s tradition, and it wasn’t part of my church’s tradition. Neither was fasting. Until I went through Seminary, I wasn’t really sure what I thought about any of it.
I like what Pastor Eric suggested in his Lenten Devotional for this week (you should read it—and if you can’t find it in your email, you should ask for it!). He wrote about fasting and Lenten disciplines not as “giving up” something or “holding back” your nature, but as an intentional effort to make space for God in your life. After all, God’s love may be infinite and God’s heart may have room to spare, but our lives are finite. We can only cram so much in before we start to buckle under the weight of it all, and I think we all know that with all the tangible concerns and joys of this world, intangible things like God can tend to get squeezed out from time to time.
Me, I think too that not only should we be intentional about “making room” for God in our lives—carving out some space for God amongst all the news, recreation, materialism, kissing, and career advancement—but we should also make room for God in our hearts.
“But Pastor Dan,” I hear you say, “I do make room for God in my heart; that’s why I’m reading First Parish Church’s weekly devotional right now!” And you’re absolutely right! And I’m so glad you are.
For me, Lent is a time to really take a look around at that space we’ve carved out for God in our hearts… and maybe bring a tape-measure. What are the dimensions of that God-space we allow within ourselves? How low are the ceilings? Are we talking a vaulted, Sistine Chapel kind of space, or is it maybe closer to the size and shape of a cubby-hole or a bolt-hole or a dumbwaiter? What rooms in the house of our heart are bigger, more lived-in, perhaps have a fresh layer of Pine-Sol on the furniture and fresh-cut flowers in the vases? What rooms house the comfy slippers of our hearts? Which chairs have a slight indentation worn into the seats? What windows are open and what fires are stoked?
Lent is a time for me to look at the architectural floor-plan of my heart and try to get a sense of the dimensions of my “Anger” room and my “Vengeance” room and my “Selfish” room. It’s a chance for me to measure my “Escapism” room and my “Role Models” room and my “Fear” room and see if maybe I could have dedicated less square footage to certain spaces, and allowed my “God-space” a little more room to grow.
May Lent, whatever spiritual discipline you take on or what spiritual practice you explore, be a chance for you to knock down a couple walls. To let some air in to the God-room in your heart. Let’s make some room in both our lives and in our hearts for God.
You’ve already made room for God? Great. Let’s make some more.
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
PS: I hope you’ll be joining Pastor Eric to discuss his Lenten devotional this Sunday, March 7, at 10am!
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.