Here we are in the second week of Lent. Today I want to talk about God calling us to come back to Him. As you know from my last email my wife has been on an eight day silent retreat in Clearwater, Florida. I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to hear about my wife’s experience. She will fly home tomorrow and we will have the blessed opportunity to discuss and share the messages God revealed to her and compare them to what He revealed to me on mine.
I recall on my silent retreat 3 months ago on about thefifth of the eight days that God put the words of the song Hosea on my heart. The morning of thatfifth day I sat outside on the grounds of the House of Prayerretreat house in Clearwater, Florida on a rock along the shore of Tampa Bay. Sitting alone I began to sing the song in my thoughts and in my heart. Now as I look forward to hearing ofmy wife’s experience, that song is again in my thoughts at the beginning of this Lenten season.
At the age of 54 I thought to myself as I reflected on the words from the song “Long have I waited for your coming home to me…”, that indeed the Lord had waited a long time for me. For 54 years I had not taken enough time to truly listen in quiet to the Lord. There, on that retreat, I gave Him eight days of my silence so he could do the talking. My wife has just given Him that same opportunity to talk for eight days.
I realize that not everyone will have or take the opportunity for an eight day silent retreat but doesn’t God call us all during this time of Lent to “come back to Him?” In last week’s email I wrote that we can use this Lenten season for a course correction if we come to realize we have not been living out our calling. Lent calls us through the practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving to turn away from our self-centeredness and to love God and our neighbor more deeply. We all know that to be true beacons of God’s joy to the world we must ourselves first be firmly rooted in His love and grace. Lent is a time for us all to reflect.
I have, my entire life, really enjoyed music. Most music seems to just speak to my soul and clearly this is true with great church music. It has been said that singing is praying twice. Let’s examine together the words to “Hosea”, the song that God spoke to me on my retreat.
Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart
Trees do bend though straight and tall
So must we to others call
Long have I waited forYour coming home to meAnd living deeply our new lifeThe wilderness will lead youTo the place where I will speakIntegrity and justiceWith tendernessYou shall know.
It is not necessary for you to take an eight daysilent retreat, please just take a few minutes of silent reflection and click on this link when you finish reading this email and listen to this song and watch the short slide show. Give these few minutes to the Lord here at the beginning of Lent to let Him speak to you through this song.
Truly God is calling us back. We cannot let the fear of our past sinfulness keep us from running into his arms during Lent. Just as the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32, returned to the father and confessed his sinfulness and was welcomed back, let us do the same. Notice the song says “with all your heart.” We are challenged to crowd out the sinful habits that occupy some of our heart and give all of our heart to our God. This wilderness time we call Lent, can in fact lead us back to the place where God will speak. Let’s listen to His message of love. The father in the story of the Prodigal Son threw a banquet when the son came home. He will do the same for us. And like the song says we will hear God say to us: “LONG HAVE I WAITED FOR YOUR COMING HOME TO ME AND LIVING DEEPLY OUR NEW LIFE.”