I can remember it like it was yesterday. Muriel, however, remembers this moment differently than I do. We were at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn and Muriel had been in labor for several hours prior to giving birth to our oldest child, Sharise (before she was through, it would be 30+ hours). The contractions were coming faster and stronger. I was by her side, trying to comfort her, but also trying to block out the intense look of hate, not love, Muriel gave me whenever another wave of pain would hit.
It was when one of these later, faster and stronger waves of pain hit her that she squeezed my hand as if she were the Hulk, pulled my hand close to her mouth and acted as if she intended to bite down on my hand like in one of the old westerns when the town doctor gave a wounded gunfighter a bullet to bite down on to bear the pain of a surgical incision. I jerked my hand back. Then she said, slyly and sweetly, “What’s wrong, baby? I wasn’t trying to bite you. Come back over here and hold my hand!” Sorry to say, however, my cowardice and instinct for self-preservation kicked in, which led me to respond to her invitation to come closer with, “Nah, I’m good over here!”
I wonder whether you hesitate to come closer to God during the Season of Lent because you may be afraid of what might happen. What’s holding you back from responding to God’s invitation to come closer, to open up to God more?
Through establishing the Season of Lent, God invites us to come closer so that we can feel God’s heartbeat, hear the sound of God’s voice and decipher God’s daily movement in, through and around us (see Mark 6:31). Oftentimes, we miss this invitation because we are so busy with our regular routines at home, work and/or school. We move at break-neck speed running from this to that, particularly living and working in the city that never sleeps. We have little time to slow down, except to sleep — and that for not long enough. That’s our life.
What if, however, there was a better way to live, to get more out of each day and for the Lord to get more out of us? Through the observance of Lent, the Lord invites us to explore that possibility and confirm that reality through experience. There is a different, better way to live which enables us to manage our obligations to others and derive a greater sense of satisfaction from doing more of what each of us was uniquely put on the planet to do (See Matthew 11:28-30). The more we accomplish working with God, rather than without a sense of God’s presence and power, the better.
At the same time, the Season of Lent is an opportunity for us to invite God to move further inside, down and up in us. God wants to be closer to us than God is presently. However, God is so patient and polite, God will wait until you and I invite God to come closer (see Revelations 3:20). Truthfully, you are as close to God as you want to be, and God is as close to you as you let God be. If you want to be closer, get into the daily habit of sacrificing more time to be with God. Isn’t becoming a better version of you worth getting up 15 minutes earlier than you currently do, shaving 15 minutes off of your lunchtime or sacrificing 15 minutes of your online time to be with the God who wants you to grow and go more?