“God is smitten with us,” Steve Bell said between songs at a recent concert. “Lent is about love and returning to the Lover who is absolutely smitten with us.”
To get us in the mood for Lent, Steve sang love songs inspired by poets, both ancient and modern. One was about God’s beloved, Israel, and Israel’s propensity to exchange freedom and real love for that slavery that was familiar. This song, in particular, inspired me to take the freedom Jesus gives me. But what does that even look like?
The next morning I reflected more on how I am like Israel and return to the familiar instead of forging ahead. One by one, God named the ways I have been called to make new roads but have not consistently walked them out. They were so mundane I hadn’t paid much attention to them: stretching after a bike ride and strengthening my core muscles, shopping with the earth in mind, eating foods that nurture my body, choosing words that are loving and kind, meeting God regularly for prayer. Humbly, I realized that doing these things delights God.
God loves us so much that no part of our lives is overlooked. Jesus says, “Even the hairs on our heads are numbered.” God, who created us, knows how interconnected we are in ourselves–body, soul and mind–and how interconnected we are to each other and the earth. Being attentive to these simple things fosters life in us and in the world.
“Lent means lengthening,” Steve Bell said. “The days are getting longer; the earth is greening and getting ready to bear fruit.” Now is the season to lengthen life and lengthen love. Now is the season to return to the one who is smitten with us.
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
–Jeremiah 31:3,4 (MSG)
Questions for your Lenten journey:
- What new roads of freedom is God calling you to?
- Steve Bell invited us to exchange our view of God from a magistrate to a lover who is smitten with us. How might that bring you more freedom?
Wow. . . thank you for this, Esther. This challenges me to wonder what mundane but important new roads I’ve been neglecting. My first response was to be a little scared to ask God to show me. . . and then I realized that this is all written in the context of God being smitten with us. It’s safe to ask.
Thanks again too for your kindness on Saturday—the little “mundane” things that made such a difference to my day: sitting with me and introducing me to people. You made my day much easier and more pleasant and I am deeply grateful. Bless you.
You’re welcome, Carolyn. I enjoyed being with you.
I am glad too that when we fall off the wagon (in regards to these mundane things we should be doing) that God is still smitten with us.