A Lenten Temptation

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Last week was brutal.

If not because of the cold, then especially because of whatever I had that knocked me off my feet for three days.

Most of you know I pride myself on the fact that I do not get sick often.

Sure, a cold, a cough and the sniffles now and then, but usually, that is it.

So last week when I found myself struggling to stay warm…and then cool…and then warm…and then cool again, I was a bit surprised and annoyed.

Annoyed because there was so much to do last week.

The men’s breakfast, session meeting, Mardi Gras pancake supper, Ash Wednesday in the morning, book study at 10:30, Ashes to Go in the afternoon, and then Ash Wednesday service in the evening. Oh, in the midst of all that I needed to run 4 miles to continue the preparation for the 10k I’m running on March 12th. Thursday would be the day I had breakfast with some folks, make visits, deliver Ashes perhaps, and then write my sermon.

A busy week, which is why I had NO time to get sick.

My body, though, my body wasn’t on board with my plans to conquer the first ½ week of Lent. My body was not up to working 14-hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday. My body was not keen on the idea that back to back nights of less than five hours of sleep was sufficient enough to do all the work that had to be done. My body…my body just couldn’t take it anymore.

I find it fitting that on Ash Wednesday, the day in our liturgical year where we ponder our mortality and the frailty of our humanity, I was lying in bed, my body aching for repose and my spirit pining for relief.

This is my problem, though, I go, go, go until my wellbeing is compromised and I am forced to take a break. Awareness is the first step in recognizing a change is needed.

Reflecting on my tendency to overdo work, I am reminded of these words from scripture:
He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’


This comes from Exodus 33, when God commands Moses to lead the Israelites away from Mount Sinai to “the land flowing with milk and honey.” At first I read this story and thought, see even Moses worked a lot. But as I sat with the story of Moses, I was reminded of how often Moses spent time in the presence of God. And when Moses spent time with God, it was usually for long periods of time. So long that on one occasion the Israelites abandoned their leader and started worshipping a golden calf…

Here is some honesty: my golden calf is busyness—which is my biggest temptation.

What does God require of me?
Not more meetings.
Not more emails.
Not more ___________.

What God requires of me is to do justice, yes; to love kindness, sure; but to walk humbly with God.

And this walking requires being present with God. Like, actually present.

Thus, this Lenten season I’ve decided to take on the practice of spending 30 minutes in the presence of God. So far, I’m struggling. But thankfully, Lent is 40 days long and each day is a new opportunity to begin again.

The journey has started. We have a long way to go. But together, I trust we will find what we are looking for…

May God be with you on your Lenten journey.


[Adam Quine, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]


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