Lenten Reflection: Eat This Scroll!
Then he said to me: Human one, eat this thing that you’ve found. Eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. He said to me: Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So I ate it, and in my mouth it became as sweet as honey.
Today is the second day of Lent, a season of preparation for Good Friday and Easter. Lent is a time when Christians throughout the world devote themselves to God in distinct ways. Many fast during Lent, giving up some beloved food or activity so as to make more time and space for God. Others take on a special spiritual discipline, such as a Lenten Bible study or a regular time of feeding the hungry.
The first part of Ezekiel 3 helps us grasp one of the deep purposes of Lent. In this passage, the Lord tells Ezekiel to eat the scroll that the Lord gave to him in chapter 2. So, the prophet opened his mouth and God fed the scroll to him, saying, “Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you” (3:3). As Ezekiel ate, the scroll tasted good, “sweet as honey” (3:3).
Those who choose to fast during the season of Lent are not simply giving up something because that’s what really spiritual people do. Moreover, they are not doing this in order to earn God’s grace, which cannot be earned and has already been given through Jesus Christ. People fast for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make more room in their lives for God and his Word. By denying themselves something they like, those who fast get in touch with their greater need for God.
Several years ago, I chose to give up television for Lent. I’ve never been one of those people who watch hours and hours each day. But I did have a few shows I liked to watch. For me, the hardest part of this particular fast was not being able to watch March Madness, the NCAA basketball finals. The point of fasting from TV was not just to give something up, however. It was to devote additional time each day to reading Scripture and praying. That year, I decided to read slowly through the biblical Gospels. By lingering over the text, I was, in effect, “eating the book.” I was taking it into my mind and heart. I was digesting it, making it a part of me.
You don’t have to be a prophet or a pastor in order to “eat” God’s Word. Every one of us has the opportunity and, I would add, the responsibility, to know the Bible in a deep way. Whether you give something up for Lent or not, perhaps you might devote extra time each day for prayerful, slow reading of Scripture. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend one of the Gospels.
May the example of Ezekiel encourage you to “devour” the Word of God, making it part of yourself, so that you might live out its truth in every facet of life: at home, at work, at church, among your friends, on the baseball field, in the stands, as you shop, when you drive, and in every other part of life.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In the past, what has helped you to “eat” the Bible, to take it into your mind and heart, to meditate upon it, to make it part of yourself? Can you think of something you might do during Lent in order to digest the Word of God more completely?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, even as you once spoke to Ezekiel, so I hear you speaking to me today: Eat this book! You are calling me to read your Word, to study it, to meditate upon it, to memorize it, to digest it, so that your truth might fill my life. Help me, Lord, to heed your call.
Increase my hunger for your truth, Lord. May I consume your Word, not just because I should, but because I yearn for the bread of life. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: If you would like to learn more about Lent, you may want to read something I have written for my blog: How Lent Can Make a Difference in Your Relationship with God.