Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Give it Up, Give it Back (Chapel A Day: Day 1)

What, if anything, does the season of Lent mean to you? For millions of Christians, the next six weeks leading up to Easter will be a time of repentance, reflection, and renewal. Many of these Christians will choose to "give up" something during Lent. 

A few years ago, as I began to grow in my United Methodist faith, I adopted the spiritual discipline of "giving up" something for Lent. I did not want to give up chocolate or soft drinks, etc. If I was going to give up something, I wanted the "loss" to become a "gain" by stretching and deepening my faith. Whatever empty spot was left by what I gave up, I wanted to be filled up with something positive, healing, and helpful to me and to others. 

I decided to give up the one thing that was most precious to me. My time. For 40 days, I gave up one hour a day to God. I found a chapel, or church, or cathedral, or outdoor sanctuary and for one hour I did nothing but pray, read, study... and listen. It was life changing. The next year, I began writing about it. (See previous "Chapel A Day" entries starting here.) Every year since, I've continued the practice of giving up time. 

But, this year, things are different. I'm running a business, going to school full time, writing, and speaking. Of all the things I can least afford to give up this year, it is TIME.

So, TIME is obviously, the one thing I must give up... and give back... to God.

For the next 40 days, I will do as I have done for the past several years. For one hour a day, I will seek out a place of worship and I will try my best to tune out the world and tune into the one around whom my world revolves.
Photo Credit: First United Methodist Church Pensacola, FL

Tonight, I will give up my first hour of time, and give it back... to God. It will happen in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Pensacola, FL. At the conclusion of the service, I will walk to the front of the church, where the minister will place ashes in the sign of a cross on my forehead. The ashes represent our mortality and repentance. 

I will cry. I always do. 

I will feel God's presence. I always do. 

I will ask God to help me live a better life during, and most especially after, Lent. I always do.

I will ask God to turn my "loss" into a "gain." I always do.

I will ask God to take this empty space of time that is typically filled with work and stress and whatever else... and fill it up with something positive, healing, and helpful. I always do.

And, He always does.

What does Lent mean to you? It can be a time of repentance, reflection, and renewal. 

It could also become... the time of your life.


  1. Why have I never thought of giving up my time to God for lent? By doing this I will be gaining more than I am giving. A win win!

    1. Absolutely a win-win! God be with you during this special season!

  2. Thank you for this - as I sit here reading while tears are welling up this was so needed for me today

  3. Debby, I am sending prayers for God's blessings on you! Thank you for taking time to read the blog. Readers and friends like you make my day, and I hope this blog can give your days a little "boost," too!