By Alli Bauck
I placed the rectangular box on the table and ceremoniously lifted the lid. A brand new pair of tennis shoes was waiting inside. Peeling back the packing paper, I lifted out each pristine sneaker. I removed their “stuffing” and unknotted their stiff laces. I was one step closer to stomping Satan into the dust…
Before I go any further, let me back up a bit.
I used to associate the season of Lent with giving something up (like chocolate, soda, or social media). Giving something up can be very beneficial if your intention is to strengthen your faith. However, in recent years I have sought to enhance the penitential 40 days of Lent by adding a spiritual discipline, instead. In 2020 (aka the Most Lentiest Lent That Ever Lented) I was blessed by walking through the hymn journal When From Death I’m Free. I valued that resource so much, I traveled through it again in 2021.
Last year’s Lenten journey was … unique.
When the pastor smudged ashes across my forehead I was thirty-five weeks pregnant with boy #3, two days away from having an eighteen-month-old, and a week shy of my oldest son turning four. (Not to mention, we were in the midst of potty training.) I had challenged myself to create a “bonus chapter” for WFDIF, meditating on “My Song is Love Unknown.” Halfway through Lent 2022, I gave birth to Samuel and he became a child of God on Easter Sunday!
So, this year, I hope to be much more present (in theory) and more focused during this Lenten season. Currently, my daily devotion time is nonexistent. My prayer life is sporadic. And, while I’m being honest about absent aspects of my life, I don’t have an exercise routine or stress-relieving regimen. Most days I felt like a survivor instead of a thriver.
Then the Holy Spirit sparked a solution.
I was listening to a podcast on a mild, sunny afternoon drive home when I saw someone walking. It was suddenly so obvious: I could give up my afternoon nap to get outside, get moving, and get plugged in to God’s Word. For the next 40 days, I could walk while listening to a podcast or audio resource that was spiritually edifying!
I decided on this new exercise a few days ago, and already the devil is trying to curb my motivation! At first, I was unsure of what podcasts to listen to. I also realized that I didn’t have functioning earbuds, either. However, after helpful podcast recommendations from friends and a borrowed pair of earbuds from my husband, I thought I was ready to go!
And then the Enemy said, “What a laughable idea! You don’t even have tennis shoes!” He was right. I didn’t have any walking shoes. (I am flat-footed, so I should be more supportive of my fallen arches and weak ankles.) But this annoyance was easily remedied—and I even walked to the nearest department store to purchase a pair! (Take that, Satan!)
Even though I am just beginning my Lenten walk, I know my human nature will be trying to trip me up. There will be afternoons when I would rather take a long nap instead of walking, or veg on the couch while bingeing a TV series. When the weather conditions are less-than-ideal, I will need to trample the temptation to be lazy. I could just chill and listen to a podcast from the comfort of my recliner–but this new practice of soul tending can be even more enriching when I pair it with the care of my physical and mental health!
Currently, my afternoons are relaxed and usually involve an hour nap. The littlest boys nap as well, while my eldest has quiet time in his room. Although I am grateful for the opportunity to have down time during the day, I do feel confident that I can sacrifice my siesta (and here I thought I wasn’t going to give anything up for Lent this year!).
I am blessed that my husband is able to work from home, so he can “hold down the fort” while I take my walks. Every weekday between 2:00PM and 3:30PM I will go for a stroll outside. I’m going to give myself a minimum of thirty (continuous) minutes to work up a little sweat and soak up some vitamin D while tuning into a faith-fostering podcast. My Saturday afternoon will be open in case I needed to skip a day during the week. On Sundays in Lent, I will rest, reflecting on the morning’s sermon and/or Bible study. Life still happens during Lent. If I am just too busy or too tired or I get sick or one of my kids gets sick, then I will make up the day I missed on that Saturday. And if I should fail to walk-the-walk any given week, there is grace! (Thank you, Jesus!)
From now until Easter, I will daily delight in walking with Jesus, in his creation and in his Word. Every time I tighten the laces on my new shoes, I’ll be reminded of how Jesus’ faithful footsteps led him to the cross; never stumbling or giving up. He pursued me from Creation to the cross. As I celebrate the fulfilled promises of Easter, I’ll rejoice that Jesus still walks beside me: from his tomb, to my grave, and even into eternity!
Maybe you are in need of some soul care, too? Maybe a podcast could be your auditory affirmation of God’s promises—whether you are pounding the pavement, filling some free time, or commuting in the car! The following list is a good place to start.
When from Death I’m Free has been part of my Lent for a few years, now. The podcast walks through Scripture as well as hymn texts. You’ll hear from artists, musicians, and theologians in a conversation focused on taking a small next step. https://community.findmynextstep.org/nsp-season-1/.
Thy Strong Word reveals the light of our salvation in Christ through study of God’s Word, breaking our darkness with his redeeming light. Each weekday, two pastors fix our eyes on Jesus by considering Holy Scripture, verse by verse, in order to be strengthened in the Word and be equipped to faithfully serve in our daily vocations. https://www.kfuo.org/category/thy-strong-word/
Let’s Read the Gospels with Annie F. Downs is a daily podcast where she’ll guide you through a monthly reading of the Gospels–the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. https://www.anniefdowns.com/letsreadthegospels/
Podcasts for inspiration in your faith walk
The Delight! book received the 2020 BIBA® award for best independently published book in the Christian category. In Season 4 of the Next Step Podcast, author Justin Rossow reads the whole book in bite-sized sections, perfect for a good walk. You’ll get to know better how much Jesus takes delight in you—a great theme for Lent! https://community.findmynextstep.org/delight-book-reading/
Walk a Little Slower with author, poet, and host, Tanner Olson. He has created a space for you to slow down and lean into the truth around. Here he shares the things he is learning and writing as he invites you to walk a little slower. If you’re looking for inspiration, reminders of hope, notes on creating or are in need of a little distraction, tune in. https://anchor.fm/walk-a-little-slower
The Matthew West Podcast features singer/songwriter Matthew West and some of his favorite artists, authors, athletes, and influencers. In addition, listeners get a behind-the-scenes look in each episode at some of the powerful stories behind his music, plus a special segment, “Dadvice,” with Matthew’s dad. https://www.matthewwest.com/podcast
In order to add an element of accountability to my journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, I will be taking a picture of something I see on each of my walks. That snapshot will be the background for a social media post where I can share the podcast link for the episode I enjoyed. (I might even record other details about my walk, as well!)
If you are participating in a new spiritual discipline this Lent, invite a friend (or “followers”) to help you stay on track. After all, we follow Jesus better when we follow him together!