My headache was hellish. The pain was more than I had ever experienced. If someone had offered a radical surgical removal of the pain, I think I would have gladly accepted. The relief-giving medicine never stayed down long enough to do the work it was intended to do. After watching and listening to me empty my stomach all morning, my very kind and loving husband –feeling helpless — called the doctor for help. Soon medicine was prescribed that would help keep the needed headache medicine down. After hours of excruciating pain, the glorious relief finally came–and I truly mean glorious! You see, you don’t know how good it is to feel really good until you’ve felt the excruciating pain of feeling really bad.
In the same way, there’s something about going through the intense agony that makes the victory so much more of a celebration. If we jump right to the victory dance, we miss the impact of the agony and sacrifice that got us there.
In a similar fashion, the victorious celebration of Easter is coming …but the season of Lent takes us back. It gives us a chance to reflect …to search our hearts and get rid of any lingering sin that keeps getting us all tangled up –remembering it was our sins that took Jesus to the cross in the first place and without the cross, there’d be no resurrection and without the resurrection …we’d have no hope! It’s that important.
You see, the cross made it possible for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ to do what it was made to do …fix our sin problem …give us the righteousness of Jesus to replace our broken attempt at being good…bring us into relationship with God. We had to have the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to even make it possible for us to have the opportunity to be rescued …saved.
So the journey continues …
Last year I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church here in the Madison, Alabama. For background, you might want to read about that journey in a former post, Embracing the Season of Lent.
I’m taking a personal journey again this year through the season of Lent to take some much-needed time to reflect, repent and re-order what may have gotten off track. The season of Lent is approximately 6 weeks long beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday–the Saturday before Easter. This year that falls on the dates of March 1-April 15, with the grand celebration of the Risen Savior on Easter Sunday (April 16, 2017).
If you’re interested, you can join me on this journey through this Lenten season by gathering here on this space once a week for reflection as we take a look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s heart–looking with a greater appreciation and anticipation to Easter Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His victory for us over sin and death.
For me, this is a personal journey –not about a denomination or a legalistic set of rules and regulations — but a time for intimate heart reflection that moves me toward freedom in Jesus Christ.
This year, I’m reading through Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter –a book published by Plough Publishing with collected readings from many different Christian authors including, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas à Kempis, Frederick Buechner, Oswald Chambers and one of my favorites–Henri Nouwen.
In this book, the editors at Plough Publishing write this about observing Lent …
“How many of us, even at Easter, give Christ’s death and resurrection any more attention than the weather? To observe Lent is to strike at the root of such complacency. Lent (literally “springtime”) is a time of preparation, a time to return to the desert where Jesus spent forty trying days readying for his ministry. He allowed himself to be tested, and if we are serious about following him, we will do the same.”
They go on to explain that Lent “…is a good time to let go of excuses for failings and shortcomings; a time to stop hanging on to whatever shreds of goodness we perceive in ourselves; a time to ask God to show us what we really look like …a time to face up to the personal role each of us plays in prolonging Christ’s agony at Golgotha.”
(written by the Editors of Bread and Wine~ Readings for Lent and Easter, August 2002)
Initially, this may not feel like a fun run but it is desperately needed to be healthier for the marathon of life. Think of it this way — Lent is like a spiritual check up that we need to go through at least once a year. It will give us time for personal evaluation to see if our heart looks more like the healthy heart of God or perhaps the life-giving arteries have gotten clogged with hatred, self-absorption, jealousy, greed, pride, self-sufficiency, apathy, resistance to something God is calling us to do, stubbornness, etc.
But sins revealed can be a humbling experience. Walking this journey together can keep us focused on the benefits of the process so we don’t lose heart in the realization of all the “messed up-ness” that might need work. You don’t have to comment to share in the journey, but if God speaks in some specific way that you think would encourage others …please share in the comment section below each post. Let this be a space of encouragement and cheering each other on as we make our way home to the heart of God.
Book credit: Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter from various authors and Published by Plough Publishing House –Walden, New York; Robertsbridge, England; Elsmore, Australia — copyright 2003 by Plough Publishing House.
If you’d like to order your own copy, click HERE.