Through the winter months, I’ve looked forward to sitting in the early morning dark with my coffee, Bible, a journal and a stack of books I’m reading. This dawn encounter with God has become important to me. I kind of like that it takes place by candlelight, before the day unfolds and presses in, so I linger as long as my calendar and the rising sun allow.
There’s a structure to this divine appointment, borrowed from author Emily P. Freeman. She calls the practice PRWRP: Pray, Read, Write, Read, Pray. I usually open with a centering prayer honoring God’s presence, followed by selected portions of the Psalms. Next I’ll read from a book (sometimes two) that is teaching or inspiring me, marking portions I want to remember and explore further. This usually leads to journaling thoughts, insights or applications for my life. Next, I’ll turn to whatever book of the Bible I’m currently studying (James and Hebrews so far this year). And finally, I’ll talk to God about my concerns for my children, my husband, our church, our friends, as well as personal joys and burdens. My PRWRP habit hasn’t just given me a new rhythm for “quiet time”, it’s become a light in this dark season.
Lately, I’ve noticed the sun is rising before I’m ready to lay aside my books and rinse out the coffee cup. Soon I won’t need that candle. Though I’ll get used to it, I’m not excited about the idea of sunlight beaming down on my quiet time with God.
Are Spring and an early sunrise a fair exchange for meeting Jesus in the dark hush of winter?
We’re over a week into Lent, the 40-day season that began with Ash Wednesday and leads us to Easter (which falls on April 12). Easter has always been my favorite holiday, probably because as a child it meant a new pastel dress, hat and black or white patent leather shoes (does that date me?) and a basket of Easter candy. Believe it or not, as a firstborn with a penchant for “doing the right thing”, making a sacrifice during Lent was a discipline that felt empowering. I was able to do something tangible to please God. As a child, the sacrifice usually involved giving up candy or a favorite television show.
As I consider my love for Easter from an adult perspective, I realize my affection is rooted in more than pretty dresses and chocolate eggs. Easter is the season of light and new life. It’s the fulfillment of prophecy and the promise of eternity. Easter completes the story of Christmas.
Because Easter is about shining light in dark places, here are four words that might offer direction and bring purpose to this season of light and promise:
Go. Be. Do. Tell.
- Go where people need to hear that Jesus loves them and that he died for their sins. Put yourself in a place that might feel uncomfortable and ask God to show up (FYI — he’s already there). For me, it’s our local jail where I guide incarcerated women in writing stories from their lives.
- Be who God created you to be in the space. Be real and be vulnerable. Share your own stories of light and salvation.
- Do what needs to be done. Whether it’s lending a helping hand, listening to a hard story, giving a hug or sharing what God’s given you, just do it.
- Tell those you meet about Jesus. Let them know what Easter’s really all about then invite them to worship with you on Easter Sunday. Better yet, invite them to church next Sunday (when it’s likely less crowded) and maybe they’ll return on their own for Easter Sunday.
Easter IS about pretty dresses and candy, but it’s also about the promise of a new life in Jesus. It’s about shining light in dark places. And it’s about new beginnings. If ever a holiday was designed for new beginnings, it’s Easter.
One more thing…
Perhaps you’d like to bring a new perspective to your observance of Easter. Instead of GIVING UP something for Lent, consider what you can GIVE. Our efforts can still be sacrificial, but perhaps we can make them more meaningful than depriving ourselves of coffee or chocolate. This year I’m sacrificing my freedom to choose what to wear each day by wearing the same black article of clothing and donating to a cause that brings awareness to human trafficking. My choice to wear black supports the efforts of Blackout Trafficking. This grassroots organization was founded by Elisa Johnson, a woman who wanted to make a difference. In the past four years, her project has raised over $75,000 for anti-human trafficking organizations across the country. My birthday fundraiser will support The Alabaster Jar Project, a ministry in San Diego that provides services for people. You can donate here.