And now, says the poet, there is another way. It is not your way. You would not have imagined this alternative way nor been able to predict it, and you surely cannot control it. There is a way into the future of your life, because God is at work doing strange, wondrous things for you and in spite of you, and your job is to get your mind off your ways of need and control, to give your life over to God’s large, hidden way in your life (42).
Today marks the end of Lent, the liturgical season when Christians prepare their hearts for Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. Like Advent, the season of Lent helps us focus on what God is doing behind the scenes in our own lives and what he has done on the larger stage of human history.
To me, both of these seasons help us cycle through darkness and look for a coming light. Advent helps us anticipate both the birth of Jesus and also His second coming. Lent helps us prepare our hearts for Easter by remembering Jesus’ own temptation, suffering, and death. They help give a circular, seasonal pattern to our years, which are already governed by nature’s seasons. I especially love that neither Advent nor Lent shy away from the darkness of our world and the struggles we are facing.
For the last few years, I’ve read Russ Ramsey’s Behold the King of Glory at Lent, and while I love that devotional, I decided to branch out this year. I chose A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann, having no idea just what a providential choice that would be.
Brueggemann’s book has 40 short devotions, each beginning with a verse and ending with a prayer. Some themes I noticed in this book were the unexpectedness of God’s work in our lives, the difference between God’s kingdom and the world’s empire, and the care and concern God shows for His children. All things I needed to hear! The devotions didn’t follow any sort of pattern, but I noticed these themes growing as the book continued on. Brueggemann also connects the big ideas of Lent and Easter to how we live in Christian community and how we treat those who are not members of our church family. He makes interesting points about social justice and how we should live as children of God.
The best part of this devotional was how concise and clear the wisdom he offers is. Each devotion was less than two pages long and full of thoughts like this:
The journey we now undertake is not by ourselves alone. We are surrounded on the way by the God of all trust, the God who kept Abraham and Sarah safely, the one who walked all the way to Jerusalem with Jesus (5).
The God who summons us is the God who goes along with us (8).
The questions of Lent are:
- What are we doing?
- Are we working for that which does not satisfy?
- Are we spending for that which is not bread? (11)
Our life is not willed by God to be an endless anxiety (32).
All of these thoughts, along with many more in the book, spoke to me right where I am. I shared recently about the consolation of doubt, and this book was just another thread I think God will use in the story He is writing. Putting all of these ideas into practice is another matter entirely!
Check back for more book reviews this month–on Tuesday I’m sharing my April suggestions for our reading challenge, and on Friday I’ll be sharing some highlights from my wonderful but exhausting trip to the UK. Chaperoning sixteen students is no joke!