As part of our Lenten focus on prayer, I’m currently leading a couple of small groups through Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker.
During one of the video teachings that accompanies the small group study, Batterson references the second part of Revelation 3:7
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
As it relates to prayer, Batterson suggests we typically only pray part of this promise. Namely, the part about open doors. We like open doors. We like the way clear and straight. Closed doors? Not so much.
I know if I hadn’t been fired from my job in advertising, I would not have taken the steps that led to me becoming a pastor. One door closed. Another door opened.
This Lent I have been thinking about the doors opening, the practices I want to add to my life. I’ve been thinking about what I want to start and hopefully continue.
What about what I need to let go? What about what I need to stop? Could it be stopping is at least as important, and maybe even requisite, to starting?
These questions are perhaps more traditional when it comes to observing Lent. We have often asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?”
I begin to suspect in my desire to be more positive and perhaps more constructive, I may have tried to short-circuit or deny the truth already mentioned…for something to start sometimes something has to stop.
Our lists may be personal and should be specific, but here are a few things we might lift up as shared “stops”:
- Stop worshiping a small god
- Stop playing church
- Stop trying to do it all and be it all
- Stop participating in and promoting negativity
- Stop beating ourselves up (as well as others)
- Stop being a square peg trying to fit in a round hole
- Stop valuing and living out of memory (past) over imagination (future)*
- Stop focusing on self
*another thought Batterson draws out in The Circle Maker.
(What would you add to this list?)
If we stop these things I believe we can start to be and do differently. I believe we can love differently. I believe we can live differently.
And transformation is the opportunity of Lent, not stopping or starting for their own sake, but for our sake as we become more like the One who would see us grow in love together.
Life is better together,
Check out what a few of my friends taking this journey with me think of this word…