We are two weeks away from Easter Sunday. For many, it will be the one time of year they wake up, put on their pastels, and make it to some church worship gathering. For others, it will be the end of Lent—a season leading up to the joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection, marked by expectant prayer, fasting, and preparation.
Some observe Lent merely as tradition. For others there is a genuine pursuit of God, a seeking of holiness, and a desire to live differently than the cultural currents that so easily can sweep us deeper into the pleasures of this world.
I have been pondering this description of Lent:
“It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the gospel.”
I love this statement because it puts the discipline of fasting in perspective. It helps me lean into fasting with joy and it shows what it is all about.
But the more I think about this statement, the more I desire it for all of my life, not just this season. Not just for these 40 days of religious observance leading up to Easter. I want my life to be rid of the lesser things of this world and filled with the great things of God on a daily basis. Why? Because there is nothing more satisfying than God. Nothing more fulfilling than His presence. Nothing more comforting than knowing His nearness.
How often do I dam up the flow of God into my life by fillingmy soul with “lesser” things? Not necessarily bad things. Not necessarily sinful things. But lesser things. Things that are not designed to satisfy. Things that do not have the capacity to fulfill. Things that do not provide true comfort.
All of this has brought to mind Jesus’ parable of the sower found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.
I see this parable connecting to the “lesser things” in my life through the image of the seed sown among the thorns. What’s interesting about this particular soil is that it not only receives the seed (the Word of God), but the seed actually grows into a plant. It doesn’t wither or fade easily. It has every outward sign of a good plant and probably even has a deep, strong root. However, what sets the seed thrown among the thorns apart from a truly healthy plant, or the seed thrown into the good soil, is its lack of fruit.
What strikes me most is what Jesus describes as the thorns:
1.Cares of the world
2. Deceitfulness of riches
3. Desire for other things
These “lesser things” are what choke out the life of God within us, or the life God wants for us, and keep us from being fruitful in this world. I find myself caring about worldly things at times. I fight the the temptation to pursue riches, thinking they will gratify. Not to mention, there is no shortage of “other things” to be distracted by.
What would it look like to empty ourselves of these lesser things? Cares of this world. Riches. Pleasures of life. Some of them may be bad and sinful things that we need to confess and repent of, but others may simply be unfulfilling things—distractions to keeping us from experiencing the fullness of God and the fruit His Spirit longs to produce in our lives.
May God reveal the lesser things of our lives. May God empower us to empty ourselves of them. And may God rush in with His all-satisfying presence, that we may be immersed and filled with the Greater Thing—God Himself.