Lent: A Season of Paddling-Out.

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes

(A very, rusty blog for the students of Christ Church — and everyone else I suppose… I apologize in advance).

Last gorgeous Friday I found myself at Akins High School substitute teaching for Mental Health & Anatomy classes. Besides the initial jolt of the always interesting images on the walls of a classroom such as this one, I also had an inspirational prep period in which I found myself reflecting on a upcoming season of the year very relevant, for me, to both subjects at hand. It’s a season in which I usually participate in very physical things which affect very spiritual things, as well as the rest of my whole being:

Lent.

It just so happens to begin this Wednesday (don’t forget the Ash Wednesday service this week at Hope Chapel!)

During this reflection, I again felt the tug (by the Spirit, I’m sure of it) to let the “diet of Daniel” be my path for Lent this year (Daniel 1:5-16). Now, I’ve not just mentioned this aim in order to “blog-my-own-horn” here or even to advance my status to being as cool as the Warner’s (although they are huge inspirations… being as cool as Cliff & Christine is not my particularly lofty goal for this season of going on an all-out-VeggieTales diet). I’m mentioning this personal Lenten path for 2009 because… there is no way on earth I can do it… especially alone! I know this for a fact. When it comes to a season of no meats/no sweets, I know that I need the support of other craving (possibly crying) carnivores to be suffering right along side of me during this time.

So, here I am, on the Church website, “blegging” (begging via blogging) any and all full-time students at Christ Church (or even within eyeshot of this rambling) — how about we take a Lent-hike together! Let’s embark on a 40-day journey, along with Jesus in Matthew 4, and engage in physical acts of obedience which focus us in on our holistic relationship with our Creator in some out-of-the-ordinary, Wildernessy way. Whatta ya say?! (Actually, you’ll want to wait for the Spirit’s leading on this one… but what if the Spirit is using my blegging?!)

Now, not all approaches to Lent are special diets like that of Daniel or even Jesus. Sometimes the Lenten season can be that of letting go of anything that the Spirit may be compelling us to loosen our grip of (i.e.what about that iPod? That junkfood? That Myspace/facebook? TV/video games? Red Meat? Red Bull? Red hair dye & red eye-shadow? or Reading blogs that are entirely too long? etc.) and other times it can be a season of adding something much needed to our everyday living (i.e what about praying and exercising first thing every day? Writing daily encouraging letters/emails to people in need of them? Serving your family by taking on extra chore[s]? Studying the Gospels every day for 40 days? blogging even more… as spiritual journaling? Taking daily hikes of solitude? Taking daily hikes with the youth pastor’s dogs in not-so-much solitude? etc).

Anyway, whatever it is you feel the Spirit compelling you to do (or not to do) for this season of Lent, my reflection on this season brought me to a profound memory I’d like for you to keep in mind. Here it is in the form of a word-picture brought about by Rick Warren (coincidentally… NOT originally having anything to do at all about Lent):

“God makes the waves, surfers just [paddle-out and] ride them.”
(Rusty’s emphasis added because, although he’s from Orange County, I’d bet money that Rick Warren does not surf).

What the heck does surfing God-made waves have to do with Lent?!

Absolutely nothing…

… But “Paddling-out” does!

What activity both precedes and follows the spiritual “adrenaline highs” of our lives when we feel as though we’re “surfing God’s waves”?

Is it making more God-“waves” to ride? Manufacturing more exciting spiritual “highs” to drown out the mundane and boring “lows” of the life of faith?

… NO!

What precedes and follows surfing God’s waves is simple this: the difficult, ordinary, mundane, “calorie & fat-burning”, and regular discipline of PADDLING — paddling back out into the path of God’s life-transforming waves!

From my experience, it’s simple: No paddling = No surfing.

No that paddling has anything to do with making waves. You just won’t be there to experience them. (Sorry for such an oceanic word-picture brought to such land-locked state. For all you “Livestrong” Austinites: No peddling = No wind in your hair, coasting! No pain = No gain? Does that work a little better for “ALL Y’ALL”?)

I wonder sometimes what impact Daniel’s life would’ve had in the Babylonian King’s court had he not first “paddled-out” on the difficult, daily task of refusing the king’s meat & wine (together with his friends, mind you). I even dare sometimes to wonder what impact Jesus’ own life and ministry would’ve been like had HE not first “paddled-out” into the wilderness of solitude, hunger and temptation. The Bible is chock-full of masterful “surfers” who, just like Jesus, knew full-well they had to keep “paddling-out” in the path of God’s “waves” on a regular basis, no matter how mundane, boring, tired, inconvenient, and challenging it became.

So now that you’ve read my surf-sick Schpeel (that seems to have no end), let us, for the 40 days until Easter, as the students of Christ Church, “paddle-out” together and put ourselves in the path of God’s life-changing waves. Only God knows what kind of “swell” might be headed our way!

Godspeed,

Rusty

p.s. I sincerely apologize, never again will I blog 919 words in one setting.