"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." -James 1:22-25
Maybe you've had scattered moments of looking in that mirror over the past year—you've felt convicted by a certain thing again and again in times when you read Scripture, when you hear a particular theme in sermons, when you are singing in worship, when you notice your internal reactions at work or home, when you interact with certain people or ideas. There is an invitation there—an invitation to take hold of the law of liberty, to press into it, to continue to press in, to humbly surrender to God's power to transform. Those nudges are precious, generous gifts from God himself.
Right now, I'm imagining what it would be like if I were one of the crowd following Jesus back in the day. What if he turned to me, said my name, and spoke directly to my heart, inviting me to follow him and change? I like to imagine what it was like in the years afterwards for those to whom he spoke in that way, who, like Zacchaeus, heard his words of life and liberty right to their hearts, and whose lives were radically changed. I imagine savoring that memory of him in all of its detail, lingering over his words to me again and again, treasuring that moment, coming back to it for continued encouragement and conviction. When God speaks to us today through his Holy Spirit, it is just as much of a precious, good gift from God. Because of his grace, he is directly intervening to draw our attention to the sin that is winding its roots around our hearts.
Lent is another kind way that God helps us take hold of that gift. It is a set-aside opportunity to return to those nudges—what is the work of rooting out sin that God wants to do in you? Maybe after some reflection you know at least a part of what that is. Or maybe you feel so out of touch that you have no idea. (If that's the case, start with reading the book of James in the lectionary over the next few days, and I expect you will find a particular area in which you feel convicted). Then, find a way to keep that word from God in the front of your mind this Lent—a verse to recite on the T, a note card in your pocket, a one-sentence prayer that you repeat whenever you brush your teeth. This doesn't limit the many ways that God will continue to convict and speak this Lent in new ways, but it will allow you to give attention to the particular way that he is already showing you how to turn.
(Also, I can't resist putting in a plug for this Orthodox Lenten prayer. It's been a part of my daily Lenten practice for around 10 years but a part of the Orthodox Church's Lent for ummm, a lot of years. Very rich. http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent/of-ephraim-the-syrian.pdf )
I live in JP with Ryan, a bike, and a stack of unfinished psychology reading. I am a fan of yours.