This first devotion will be unlike the others. It’s an orientation to what will follow.
I grew up Catholic and one of the most distinct memories I have is that everyone was expected to give something up for Lent. At the very least, you weren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays, but if you were good Catholic, then you gave up something more significant—perhaps chocolate or ice cream.
I have no doubt that we were supposed to see it as a way of identifying with Jesus and his sacrifice on our behalf, but I can honestly say I never really thought about Jesus when I gave something up. I was simply going along with it or thought it was fun to challenge myself for forty days.
For the forty days of Lent in 2023, I invite you to join me in giving something up. But this challenge won’t be about reducing our intake of meat or sugar. Instead, it will be about surrendering control to the Master Gardener and inviting him to prune all that prevents us from being more fruitful.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” — John 15:1-2
So no, it won’t be forty days of feel-good material. Instead, it will be forty days of subjecting ourselves to the shears of the Master Gardener. We’re going to invite Him to prune away things like cynicism, judgmentalism, inauthenticity, and greed. As we do so, we’re going to trust that it will be for our benefit and for God’s glory (SDG!).
Will you join me on this journey?
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TODAY’s PRAYER: Pray through John 15:1-2. Talk with God about your level of openness to his pruning power. Ask the Spirit to give you courage.
To get this most out of this, you might want to (a) start a prayer journal and (b) do this with others—maybe an conversation partner or maybe your small group?