Last week my husband left on a business trip and flew out of the O’Hare airport in Chicago. I am always sad to see my husband head out of town but I was particularly sad last week when I realized I left my purse in the back of his car. Although I was able to survive the week thanks to my generous friend who gave me some cash and an auxiliary credit card we had on hand, it was still a dreadful week. Dreadful because I received my Lenten “assignment” and I was NOT and am NOT happy about it (because I can even make Lent, like a lot of things in my faith life, all about me).
Although I had cash, a credit card and my Starbucks app (phew!), I did have to drive without my license until my husband got home on Thursday night. And because I had no license and already pay through the nose for insurance (thank you teenage driver and teenage driver’s car), I had to do something I rarely do ever. I had to drive the speed limit. I don’t know much about Sammy Hagar other than I would love to take a flat iron to his hair, but I so get his famous song from the 80’s, “I Can’t Drive 55.” It doesn’t matter if I’m late or not, I just like to get to wherever I’m going in the name of efficiency as quickly as I can. It is completely outside the realm of my understanding when and how people can drive EXACTLY the speed limit or even more mind boggling, when they drive under the speed limit. So when I heard the Spirit inspired whisper that I needed to give up breaking the law for 40 days, I thought I might be ill.
Going the speed limit means I have to leave more time to get places. It means I have to get ready sooner. It means I will get to be humiliated by everyone passing me on the freeway and tailgating me while I…drive the speed limit (gag). I won’t be able to call anyone else “grandpa” or “slappy” when I go flying pass them the second I hit a passing zone. It is going to be a long 40 days and as happy as I should be that I am going to learn some things, I’m not. No great epiphany. No lesson to learn. Just a miserable 40 days of driving like an octogenarian.
“Dear Lord, I know that slowing down in life and on the road is probably a very good thing for me for a lot of reasons, but it just doesn’t feel that way. God, help me to do this Lenten assignment without complaining. Help me to do it with thanksgiving, trusting that this is bigger than being passed by 16 year old drivers. I love God that you use the everyday, mundane things in life to teach us about yourself. I know I don’t have to give anything up to show my love or commitment to You, but I know that in the past giving up something for Lent always results in me gaining something. In your generous and reverse economy you somehow always seem to pour out blessing onto me when I forgo something that means something to me (and generally that something is time). Help me to see this assignment not as an assignment at all, but another opportunity to experience your blessing and love (as if the cross wasn’t enough). And help me to be truly overwhelmed with your love and grace in these next 40 days so that my heart is truly prepared for the real meaning of Lent, Good Friday and Easter. In Your Name, Amen.”