The pursuit of living well can leave us barely living at all. We are rushed. We are distracted. We are addicted. And today, on the first day of the Lent season, God takes our face into his hands and says, “Look at me.”

“I am your answer. I am what you need. I will guide you through this. I will set you free. It’s me, let me show you.”

This morning I was listening to one of my favorite Jesus girls. Her name is Lisa Harper. She’s straight up hilarious and humble, and so totally grounded in the word of God that she simply makes me want to be better. She shared her experience of visiting the temple where Jesus taught in Jerusalem. She walked the stairs Jesus walked. Stairs leading to the temple which are irregular and uneven. This isn’t because the stairs are now thousands of years old, they were built this way. Intentionally irregular. Intentionally uneven.

There’s nothing that will make you trip and fall faster than stairs placed randomly and out of alignment. Some are wide and long, others are thin and narrow. Some are short while others are tall. Honey, you can’t run up these stairs. You can’t mindlessly stroll down these stairs.

These stairs, which Jesus walked, required an unhurried pace and an intentional next step. And it was designed this way for a purpose. God didn’t want anyone running into or out of the temple in a distracted rush. If you’re rushing, or if you’re distracted, you fall. You are purposefully slowed down to take each next step.

And THIS IS WHAT LENT IS FOR US. Lent is an intentional disruption to your normal flow. Lent is an irregular and uneven step to slow you down and bring intention back to your journey.

I didn’t grow up observing Lent. Honey, I didn’t grow up observing anything other than a Christmas stocking and an Easter egg hunt. There was no Jesus in our holidays. Not because we were bad people, just because we didn’t know. I’m so grateful God didn’t meet us with condemnation and punishment for the years we didn’t know. He met us with grace and mercy and an opportunity to know better so we can now do better.

Maybe that’s why you’re here today. Maybe you’re here to learn about some things for the first time, and it’s not to point out how wrong you’ve been in the past, but how gracious God is to keep revealing new things to you in the sweetest way to help you live better.

Before Jesus went to the cross, he went to the desert. For 40 days he withdrew from all distractions and prepared himself for the path ahead. The path that led to the cross. The path he walked for us. These 40 days prepared him for his death, his burial, and his resurrection.

Now, as followers of Christ, we’re invited to use the 40 days leading up to Easter to do the same, to prepare. To withdraw from distractions. To be intentional with our steps. To be mindful of what is coming. To respond to God’s hands on our face as he turns our head and says, “look at me.”

Where have you been looking other than God? Where have you been distracted? Where have you been rushing? Where have you been running stairs and missing the whole point?

In some religions Lent is a sacred time of sacrifice and remembrance, much like an advent for Christmas. For me, it’s 40 days of walking up uneven and irregular stairs to the temple. It’s a slowed pace. It’s an intentional step. It’s a full body awareness of the upcoming celebration of the resurrection of Jesus for me personally.

Won’t you go to the desert with Jesus? Won’t you leave something behind to seek him? Won’t you withdraw from the distractions to prepare for more?

This is traditionally a time of 40 days of personal sacrifice for 40 days of a greater focus on Jesus. Common sacrifices for Lent are objects we crave such as coffee, soda, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, TV, or social media. It doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy does it? It feels like an obligation. Like a box to check to be a good Jesus girl.

Let it be beyond that box, Sis. Let this be a total game changer for you this year. It can be. God wants it to be for you. He wants to break through the very things that have been holding you back and show you the great big, beautiful life he has planned for you beyond the ordinary smallness of today you’ve settled for.

This doesn’t have to be another one of those things you feel like you have to commit to, then you’re completely burned out over it in a week. This doesn’t have to be anything for show or accolades. This isn’t about cleaning your house, dropping 10 pounds, or being an example to anyone who may be watching. This is about you being renewed by Jesus as you take slow, intentional steps with him through 40 days that are not normal. 40 days of stairs that are uneven and irregular, requiring you to think, requiring you to seek, requiring you to be present.

Matthew 11: 28-30 MSG Jesus says, ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

This is Jesus’ invitation to us for Lent. Come, get away with me and you will get your life back! Your life has been stolen by mind numbing routines, bad habits, and a total disconnect of oblivion and robotic living. For 40 days, Jesus wants you to get away from all of that with him.

He wants this to be more than checking a box and doing things because you think you have to. He wants you to be close and see how he walks these uneven steps to the temple. Every move with intention. Focused and mindful. Available and aware. Not rushed. Not hurried. Not distracted. He says “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

What would the unforced rhythms of grace look like in your life? This goes beyond our ordinary “I’m giving up chocolate for Lent”, then being miserable until you bite into that chocolate bunny’s ear on Easter.

God led me to 3 things today. 3 things to consider for these 40 days of looking at Jesus and learning the unforced rhythms of grace. Much like 3 very uneven and irregular stairs that force you to slow down and take each step with intention.

He told me:

You are rushed.
You are distracted.
You are addicted.

And he invited me to consider the steps with him that would change that over the next 40 days.

How can I protect my time so I’m not rushing?
What needs to be removed so I’m not continually distracted?
Where am I addicted and how will that be overcome?

Steps that are not my normal. Steps I can’t run up without my full focus. These are the steps Jesus is calling us to for Lent.

How can you get away with Jesus, even for 10 minutes today with these 3 questions to create your irregular and uneven steps to walk with him in preparation for Easter?

No, this isn’t something you get to rush through. This isn’t something you get to check the box on and play along like you’ve got it all figured out. Don’t you feel God grabbing your face with his hands and saying, “look at me.”

Look at him. He wants to show you how to get your life back. He wants to show you how to walk with him in the unforced rhythms of grace like never before. And with each uneven and irregular step over the next 40 days which takes you out of your normal routine and habits, you will be prepared for Easter and a complete revival of your Spirit!

Let this be our specific prayer today as we seek the steps Jesus wants to lead us to:

How can I protect my time so I’m not rushing?
What needs to be removed so I’m not continually distracted?
Where am I addicted and how will that be overcome?

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