Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
In the liturgical church year, Lent is observed for the forty days preceding Easter. It is a time of commemoration and remembrance of Jesus' forty days of fasting in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry.
Lent, even today, is for many Christians a time of fasting and penitence in the desire to develop a deeper relationship with God. But Lent can also be a time to adopt a new spiritual practice, one that will enrich and enliven our worship experience, and draw us closer to the Lord as a result.
Although I've been known to give up certain practices during Lent, ones which I feel distract me from my focus on God, I'm always on the lookout for a new devotional guide to use during this season of reflection and spiritual growth. Imagine my surprise and delight when fellow Christian blogger, Jean Wise, at Healthy Spirituality, asked if I would read an advance copy of her latest book, 40 Voices - A Lenten Devotional, in exchange for an honest review. I readily accepted, and have thanked myself ever since!
Jean's easy-going, down-to-earth writing style welcomes you like an old friend the moment you open her book. Each of her devotional segments is consistently formatted, which lends an air of order and comfort as you explore the daily readings. While Jean's words are deceptively accessible, the spiritual thoughts and challenges she offers readers are mature, seasoned, and invite an active engagement in the process. What follows is one excerpt from 40 Voices, enough, I hope, to give you a taste of the inspiration awaiting you in this book.
John the Beloved
"Woman, here is your son . . . Here is your mother."
From that time on, this disciple took her
into his home.
John 19:26b, 27b
Who do you entrust with your most valuable possession?
When we began having children, we cringed at the
thought of what would happen if we died? Who
would care for our kids? Who would raise them the way we wanted?
Sometimes, a family member is the best choice. We
had to consider the factors of where do they live and
were they close to other family members? Would that
couple love our children and foster the values and experiences we wanted?
Sometimes, a close friend is another option. Someone
you know, trust and would represent you in that relationship without hesitation.
Jesus was dying. He looked down and saw his good
friend, John. Jesus trusted and loved John and gave
him a huge responsibility to care for someone Jesus also loved.
Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother.
That exchange must have given Jesus comfort and
peace. He knew his mother would be cared for and placed into good hands.
In these last moments of his life on earth, Jesus cared
for someone else. In the midst of suffering and dying,
the needs of those he loved mattered. This truth reveals
the depth and width of how much God loves each of us,
and will care for us even more now in the power of the resurrection.
Jesus called John, his beloved friend. God calls us, his beloved children.
He protects us and provides for our future care. God holds our
lives and the Holy Spirit guards our paths.
We are God's valuable possessions.
Image: A set of legal papers representing an adoption.
Question: What is your most valuable possession and how do you plan to protect it?
Prayer: Loving Father, we are amazed at the depth of your love and protection. To be called beloved children of God brings life and hope to our days.
Friends, I hope your impression of Jean's writing is as favorable as mine, and that you will be quick to add 40 Voices to your Lenten discipline this year.
May this season guide us all into a closer relationship with our God, who loves us endlessly, extravagantly and for eternity.