Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Influencing God

Today is Ash Wednesday.  The first day of the Season of Lent.

Over the past several years this season has gained a level of respect and importance in my life.  I prayerfully listen for the direction of the Holy Spirit to guide me in my selection of various disciplines to engage.  I attempt to allow this time to accomplish it's original task, to reshape and reform the places within me that have gotten out of alignment with God.

As I was reading through the lectionary texts again this morning (Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-20 - this is one of the days of the Christian Calendar that the texts are always the same, which I find interesting and refreshing), I found myself struck by a new thought...

Do I influence God during Lent?

This idea was first sparked by Joel 2:14a.

"Who knows whether he will have a change of heart...." (CEB)

I've always thought about Lent from the perspective of my  needing to change and have my mind, heart, and actions shifted by God.  But we are talking about relationship here, right?  As I used to say in my Intro to OT class:

The greatest desire of God's heart is for relationship with us.

So if this is about relationship, then as I am engaging in these disciplines and allowing my heart to be moved and changed, am I also influencing God and His interactions with me, with His people, with His world?

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not talking about some type of a cause and effect relationship here - If I fast, then God will act - and He better act the way I want!  But if this is truly an authentic relationship, then the actions and choices of each participant will by their very nature influence the others.

It reminds me of a family systems model within the realm of therapy - each member of the family system impacts all of the other members of the system by their actions and reactions.  It's dynamic - because it's relationship!

So this year for Lent rather than just focus on the ways in which I am being reshaped and reformed, I am also going to pay attention to the ways in which my movements impact the dynamic relationship I have with God.  As I respond to Him I am going to watch for the ways in which He is responding to me - and we will be influenced together!