To Abide: Petitioning for His Presence

Creativity is not a mood. Creativity is not a gift.
It’s the very nature of God inside of you.
Dan McCollum

A few weeks ago, I felt it in my heart that I needed to do something different this Lenten season. I did not grow up in a high church, so the act of fasting or giving something up during this season is a foreign concept to me. But in the years I’ve been practicing Holy Yoga, I’ve begun to be drawn towards practices and disciplines of the high church–and those of Jesus, such as meditation, simplicity, solitude, prayer–while also becoming much more intrigued with the Liturgical year.

This past Advent season, I found myself grieving that our church doesn’t practice the season of Advent, and I almost wonder if some of these ancient traditions and seasons will eventually no longer be practiced by the church. But, that’s a different conversation in itself entirely.

Lent is a season of preparation

Where I’m headed today is Lent–and the discipline of fasting. Growing up, I just always thought my Catholic friends gave up meat because their church told them too. I never really understood the practice. And today, though it’s still new to me, I’m beginning to see that the Season of Lent is a season of preparation. It’s a time when a believer fasts from something in order to turn back to the spiritual discipline of prayer and to draw themselves nearer to God. It’s set as 40 days in order to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before He began His ministry.

Late last year, I wrote about how this is my 30th year and that I’m the same age Jesus was when He stepped out into His ministry. As my year progresses, I have realized the Lenten season needs to be different for me. I need to observe it–in it’s true spiritual discipline sense and fast from something in order to abide in the Spirit.
In the midst of prayer, what and why both came quickly to my heart.

For three years I’ve been working on a story and for years before that I’ve dreamed and hoped of becoming a writer. I believe that God has placed this dream and love of story in my heart and in my design, but as the whispering of my characters have gotten stronger through the years, so have the lies of the enemy that I’m not good enough.

Instead of obeying His call to write from the deep places, I’ve run from it every which way.

quino-al-110318Yet our Creator God is a first an artist, a CREATOR who created us in HIS image.

Which means, as His children, having the very nature of God in us means that creativity resides in us and is of Him and we are all born to make art.¹ The season of Lent then is a perfect time to reevaluate my intentions of creativity by abiding in the one, true Artist. In choosing to observe the practice of Lent to be present with my God, I’m allowing my soul to be present with my creativity.

In order to get back into my story–to spend time with my creativity–I need to spend time with my Creator.

But how for in my all-too-busy life, I cannot just up and leave my job to pursue my art. Thus I come back to the practice of Lent and the act of giving something up to draw closer to God. When I break down my schedule and see all the screen time I could be writing but that’s often filled up with other screen things, I realize the easiest most sensible thing to give up is just in fact that–all that time spent scrolling on social media.

I know that to disconnect in a world where connection is such a big thing is rebellious.
It’s against the grain of society.
It’s upside down.

But I serve a God whose Kingdom is upside down, and He is telling me it’s time to step out in obedience.

jbhwm

Two years ago I stumbled across the Just Be Here With Me Project and the petition for presence started by Morgan Day Cecil and I fell in love. Morgan says of the project that

Love begins and ends in the act of paying attention.

Too often I think we forget to pay attention. I know I forget to pay attention all. the. time.
But Lent is a time for us to pay attention: to God and the stories around us. He called His own Son into the wilderness for 40 days, to fast and to prepare for His life of ministry.
To be alone with His Father before He started His Story of redemption.
And in those 40 days, He abided with the Father. The wilderness grew Him and His ministry became clear.

___________

The other day I was on a walk with my pups to help jump start my imagination, and I lacey-raper-361caught myself thinking about what C.S. Lewis would do when it comes to writing.
I haven’t really studied him much, but I do know He wrote some of my most favorite Truth filled children’s stories, The Chronicles of Narnia Series. In them, Lewis found a way to share the Truth through his imagination. His bestie–Tolkien–who is another favorite of mine, opened Lewis’ eyes to the idea that reason and imagination could be brought together through stories. Reason and imagination were reconciled through the Gospel narratives because God is the great storyteller, and chose STORY as the way to share how He himself entered such conflict (our fallen world) and brought a joyous resolution. Lewis began to see how all that delight he received from the fantasy and mythological stories he loved reading was really just a taste of the greatest and truest story: God’s. ²

I am no expert on C.S. Lewis–but I believe he was a man inspired by the presence of God, and I, too, want to be inspired in my own writing by the presence of God.  In this season, I cannot do that unless I disconnect from my online presence to seek His presence.

Though the Spirit is nudging me forward to power down and write, I know that Lent isn’t really about giving up social media or writing my book. Lent is about abiding in the presence of God.  Take out my purpose for fasting and substitute yours. For when we abide in Him, life becomes clearer. Our ministry, our calling, our hearts. The wilderness.

Abiding in His story makes every other story better because we can see the redemptive quality of Christ woven into the words.

His story becomes our storyand our every-days become enchanted with His presence where we learn to truly abide in Him.

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He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods; the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.
C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
¹ Idea from A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
² Christianity Today “J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: A Legendary Friendship”
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