The New Room has been sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
David Drinkard is a Retired United Methodist Pastor from Appomattox, Virginia, USA. He has participated in several Wesleyan Heritage Tours to the UK and looks forward to returning to the New Room someday.
Matthew 4:1-4 Forty Days in the Wilderness
The season of Lent is a time I look forward to each year. For many years my focus was on the things I would give up during these forty days of fasting and self-denial. While there are certainly benefits to such observances, it became easy for me to get caught up in what was being sacrificed, rather than the spiritual growth I was seeking.
On my first visit to the New Room in Bristol, my attention was drawn to the statue of John Wesley on his horse with a book in his hand. The more I reflected on this image, the more I felt compelled to examine the harsh fact that I was not committed to such a discipline. When visiting the Gift Shop I selected several books to add to my reading list, and from that moment, my Lenten Discipline would become more about reading than my giving up sodas and sausage biscuits (that’s fizzy drinks and sausage rolls in the UK).
Harriett Olson, in an article entitled “Man of One Book” states: For John Wesley his focus and dependence on Scripture were not threatened or diminished by reading widely and deeply in many fields of knowledge. To the contrary, he expected his preachers to educate their reason, all the better to see the working of God in nature, in human history, and in the lives of the faithful. He insisted that one should set aside at least five hours a day for reading. Such discipline gave freshness not only to his sermons but his life in general.
When I retired in 2018 after serving more than forty years in ministry, I put to paper some goals for my life. Near the top of that list is a commitment to be a lifelong learner. Thank you, Mr. Wesley, for inspiring me.
Loving God, as we reflect upon Jesus forty days in the wilderness and seek to become more faithful disciples, grant us a Holy Lent. Amen.