What I am about to say, when I share it about myself, often confuses people. For a lot of folks, this comes as a surprise, some have even said shocking, if they've gotten to know me over any length of time. But I have taken those famous Meyer's Brigg's personality sorters, and it turns out that for all the time I spend in front of people, speaking in groups, being the life of the party, and just generally living into a goofball state of mind, I am by nature an introvert. This shock seems to come from a classic misunderstanding of those of us who are introverted by nature. People think we're closed off, quiet, and reserved. Really what it means to be introverted is that we loose a lot of energy when we are around people, and we gain energy when we find ourselves alone. This is why it is a law of nature that I will need at least a three hour nap after preaching all three services on a Sunday morning.
I wonder if Jesus were an introvert too. To be sure he spent a fair amount of time in front of people, teaching, preaching, and performing miracles. He had a gang of teenage disciples that would follow him around all day asking questions because they didn't get it. We get the picture of him being an up-front kind of personality, always on, always engaged, always pushing. But truth be told, we also get easy to overlook passages like this:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)
I can relate. Sometimes you just need to set aside some quiet time and take stock of things. Sometimes you need to withdraw, to back up, to step out. Sometimes you just need a break.
It turns out the Church (big C) has thought the same thing for quite a while. We are about to celebrate the season of Lent, 40 days meant to help us withdraw from some of the stuff that complicates life, and be in the quiet places that can mend our souls. This is much bigger than just giving up chocolate or television or other vices for a season, only to pick them up on Easter Sunday. This is about withdrawing from the things that drain spiritual energy from us. This is about setting aside the distractions. This is about finding the quiet places, so that we can listen to the voice of the one who loves us.
So rather than ask you what you might be giving up this Lenten season, I wonder if I could ask you what you are withdrawing from? Where are the places in your life that you need to take a step back so that you can allow God to step in? What's holding you back from God's goodness in your life that you could set aside, at least for a season?
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