REND your HEARTS and NOT your GARMENTS. RETURN TO THE LORD your GOD, FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER AND ABOUNDING IN STEADFAST LOVE, AND REPENTS OF ALL EVIL." [Joel 2:13]
All my life I thought Lent was a strange and old Christian custom that had no value to anyone but Roman Catholic believers. In school and in my early adulthood I’d hear people say things like, “I’m giving up chocolate for Lent” or “I’m giving up caffeine.” Why give up good things for Lent I’d think?
"In Jerusalem there are ancient ruins of the High Priest Caiaphas’ quarters. Outside is a garden with ancient steps leading from the Kidron Valley past the dwelling of the high priest and on into the city. This is one of the places a believer can go and with certainty know that Jesus walked on those steps. They were used to bring him before religious leaders who would subsequently get him executed. The Apostle Peter denied Jesus there. I lingered at the steps a long time. I considered my own denials. The big and small ones. The way I deny Jesus with my actions and the posture of my heart. It was a sobering moment to realize Jesus deliberately walked up those steps to his own death on behalf of all of us."
As I consider my little denials and my plausible denials, and frankly the out and out ways I sometimes say, “I don’t know the man,” I consider Lent. Is giving up chocolate going to right this? Perhaps like so many traditions we forget why we’re doing them. Lent is supposed to be a season that leads us to Good Friday. We sit with the fact that our sin costs something. It costs us in our families, it costs us in our bodies, it costs us in our soul. Sin leads to death and if there were ever a day of death it’s Good Friday when the man whom I claim is my very closest friend was executed unfairly in an agony filled bloody gasp. We’re supposed to sit with that for forty days. Sin costs something and sin leads to death. When we realize this we begin to also realize that perhaps our lives have fallen out of alignment with God. It is from this place that we invite the Holy Spirit to speak of things both good and bad that we’ve allowed to interfere. It’s those things we lay down for Lent. Some of these things are actually good things that belong in our lives that we’ve allowed to become more important to us than Jesus. Things we go to for comfort and life and in doing so deny Him. During Lent we lay those things down and give God permission to re-integrate them into our lives where they belong.
May this season of Lent be less about lowering our sugar intake and more about setting things right. Sin leads to death. Lent leads to Good Friday. This is what we are to sit with. But in sitting with the cost of Christ’s suffering we look beyond to Easter when the flash of resurrection fills our lives with hope. If we embrace Lent and allow Jesus to orient our lives once more, the resurrection will certainly come.
I AM personally WAITING and AWAITING WHAT the LORD IS DOING in my BODY. I'M on an OUTSIDE-THE-AmericanMedicalAssociation-BOX, as I follow JESUS to become FUNCTIONING AGAIN for His Kingdom. As I watch my healing process, waiting for a little while for proof of it's effectiveness, I want to post wise and useful quotes from people I follow or know. Only what would not waste your time. I'll be back with exciting news, I'm quite certain!