When I worked in the intensive care unit, there were many times when a patient’s illness had overwhelmed their human body past the point of modern medicine’s miracles, and the decision was made by the family to let the patient pass away naturally, free of the machines sustaining their life.
I had the privilege, the honor, the sacred responsibility as that patient’s nurse to help insure a pain free, peaceful passing.
When you’re in that moment – that precipice, hovering between life and death, time slows to a crawl, the air, silent, hushed, weighty. In that place, there’s a heaviness, but also a release of burden – suffering relieved for one soul, yet suffering to begin for the loved ones left behind.
The word sacred is the only descriptor I could ever find to encompass the feelings, however still inadequately, of what it was like to care for people in their last earthly minutes.
In the busyness, the noise of to-do lists, job requirements, relationship tending and children minding, and the pressure of social media pressing upon us — what is it that we can call sacred these days? When can we carve away the quietness of a sacred moment between us and our Savior? How quickly we can forget the holiness of our God, the reverence required, His unfailing love, and the ultimate gift He gave.
As Christians, two of the most sacred days a year for us to celebrate our faith are Christmas and Easter — one a miraculous, humble beginning and the second a culmination, a rising that brought forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe. Yet, how easy it is to gloss over these days, to forget their significance, to forget their sacredness in the hustle and bustle that goes along with them.
This past Christmas, I participated in my first Sacred Holidays study during Advent. I heard about Becky Kiser and her ministry previously, but had not reaped the benefits of actually doing one of her studies. Sacred Holidays provides Advent studies and Lent studies for women, men, and teens.
While doing the study during the month of December, I couldn’t believe the difference it made. Setting aside a bit of time each day to remember the gift God gave at Christmas as well as discover what gifts He uniquely gave to me was renewing and refreshing during what always is an extremely chaotic time of year. That quiet time, that recapturing of the sacredness of the season, gave me energy to celebrate not only the gift He gave us in baby Jesus, but also the gifts He gives throughout the year.
I’m so excited to share that I am a part of the launch team for the 2016 Lent study which starts February 10 and goes through Easter. The women’s study is called Your Story…Redeemed; the men’s Jesus’ Story, Our Story; and the teen study is Squad: the Friends of Jesus. These studies are different from the Advent studies as they have many different contributors that will guide us through seven weeks of daily lessons as we journey through Lent, preparing and refocusing our hearts to rejoice anew at Easter over the resurrection of our Savior.
The study format varies, which I love, and Becky and her co-writers use all kind of methods to get you engaged including media (like music videos or clips found on YouTube), multiple choice questions, fill in the blank phrases, write out your thoughts spaces, reflection with your community questions, as well as the option to participate in the picture of the day challenge on Instagram.
Whether you have been a Christian for twenty plus years, for two years, or maybe you are just not quite sure what you believe any more, reflection on how Jesus’ story is wrapped throughout all the chapters of our own stories — however complex, complicated, or anticlimactic — reminds us of the grace extended, the power of the resurrection, and the sacredness of the Lent season leading up to Jesus’ death on a cross and His glorious resurrection.
I am also compelled to say (as a recovering “grace earner”) that a Bible study is no substitute for God’s grace and doing the study doesn’t earn you salvation, extra crowns in heaven, or forgiveness for past sins — simply because God’s grace doesn’t need to be earned. It’s a free gift, given by our Savior, made available to all who accept it. A Bible study during this season truly is only to help us in reclaiming the sacredness of the season while resting in the truth that our stories have already been redeemed by a Savior who loves you past, present, and future, no matter what.
That being said, I encourage you to go to the Sacred Holidays website and check out the study that best fits you. My husband and I have ordered both the men and women’s studies for Lent. The men’s study is new for this year, and I’m excited to discuss with him what God is teaching each of us through these studies.
I always felt the sacredness mixed with deep sadness as I stood beside a hospital bedside as life slipped away, yet there was always some hope in my heart to know that death doesn’t have to be the end. That’s what Lent reminds me of — the sacred swirling with the sadness, the hope brightening the grief as we remember, mourn, and finally rejoice in the resurrection of our Savior. I hope you will join me and many other women, men, and teenagers as we refocus our hearts on the sacredness of this season as well as the remember the power of redemption that Jesus brings to every one of our stories.
Let me know if we will be doing the study together by leaving a comment, e-mailing me, or connecting with me on social media! I would love to talk about what it’s teaching us along the way!