Lenten Devotional: Monday, April 7

by Aaron Farnham
April 7, 2014

1st John 3:24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

As I sat down to write this I had just learned of the passing of a friend’s paternal grandfather, and that news gave me reason to pause and consider the life of my own. That brought me to this reflection…

Grandpa Farnham was a self-educated farmer, and showed many of the same traits as others of the Tom Brokaw labeled “Greatest Generation”; responsible, frugal, humble, loyal in love (my grandparents had celebrated 62 years of marriage just before he passed) hard working, willing to take on challenges and keeping things simple to name a few. In particular, when I was younger I often found myself standing in awe of his resolve. He was also a man of habit and routine, and after retiring he made drinking beer his routine. It was so consistent that he wore a patina into the end of the banister from standing at it and another on the picnic table bench.

Likely it is a product of where Andrea and I are in life, but the image of the worn pattern of his forearm on the English Oak banister and seat marks on the picnic table brought Gaby to mind. There is also the fact that I wish this seventeen month old could meet her great-grandparents. They would likely be excited by her growth and development. The pediatrician has told us we can begin potty training, and thus, I have started to read up on the topic, but am sure great-grandma and great-grandpa would have opinions to share on the matter.

While Gaby did most of her crawling up on all fours and did not leave any marks on or from her elbows or forearms, she has grown content with her bum in a particular caress. The method that we have decided to use to potty train Gaby demands commitment to no longer using diapers. Oddly enough, that brings me back to my grandpa.

Just as with smoking, at one annual physical the doctor told him, “Marshall, if you don’t stop drinking it is going to kill you.” He never had another sip of alcohol. The first time my dad pulled into the farm driveway after that I immediately noticed that grandpa was in a rocking chair at the opposite end of the porch from the picnic table. Later that evening when he wanted to watch the news he sat down in a chair. I had never seen him do either of those two things. Incidentally, and this might be coincidental, I think our relationship blossomed alongside his new found interests in gardening, ecology and birdwatching as he came to life in those activities.

That is the crux of it, really. When, over the longterm or short, one abstains from something, be it alcohol, diapers, caffeine or Netflix and Hulu, it can be beneficial to chart new patterns. While we have all likely thought about inserting something into our lives to fill in the space left by what we have extracted, there is a chance you might need some encouragement at this midpoint of Lent. You might even need to consider altering your routine ever so slightly. For example, by not walking into the office first thing upon arriving home my better half has found it easier to not be tempted to stream television programs that she enjoys.

However God has directed you in the spiritual habits, please realize that even in the pragmatic minutia of something so simple as sitting on the opposite end of a porch, never wearing a diaper again (okay, so maybe that is not a little thing) or walking into one room rather than another the God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit, is with you. If abstaining from something has been particularly difficult, or if it proves to be in the future, please consider some small changes that might ease the difficulty.

Holy Spirit, thank you for the promise of your presence in our lives and your grace which allows us to be in relationship. Humbly, we ask that you guide us as we pursue Christ-likeness and God’s love throughout the year and particularly in this Lenten season, and help us discern ways in which we can honor you in our holy habits and grow stronger through them. Amen

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