Before You Start Your Lenten Journey

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I’ve loved well …sometimes.  I’ve wanted to love well …many times.  I’ve loved …well, I’ve loved the best way any imperfect human being can …imperfectly.

But God –my heavenly Father — now He knows how to love.  His love stretches over all my stretch marks  created when life circumstances have pulled me farther than my skin could expand and He loves me …He holds me close and says things like …

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
 For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
…you are precious to me.
    You are honored, and I love you.  
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

From Isaiah 43 (NLT)

He also tells us that He delights in us with gladness … sings over us like a mama or daddy would sing over their precious child –calming all our fears with His love.   And as if to make a statement to all others of His love for us, He engraved our name right on the palm of His hand like a permanent tattoo.  We are skin to skin!

From this safe place of being unconditionally loved, we can confidently speak this truth out loud to ourselves:  His mercies are new every morning.  He will never abandon me or forsake me.  His love never fails …never falls short …never is absent from my life…always pursues a relationship with me …never moody or withholding His love …pure …fighting for me …verbalizing His love for me …promising to be with me …goes before me …lighting the path for me to take.  His love never fails.  He gets it right every time.

“He walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own.” *

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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And by some amazing grace, He calls us friends!

If you don’t know Jesus like this, now is the time to put your trust in Him.  Invite Him in and begin the journey together, letting Him lead you home to his heart.   And if you are already walking with Jesus and following Him, let this be a time of refreshing and renewing so you don’t get weary and lose heart when the journey seems long.

Remember this …The season of Lent begins in love and ends in  love — and in between is growth.

Love planted in us, fertilized by God’s Word, watered by the Spirit and cultivated by the Master Gardner, Jesus Christ …mulched with joy and sorrow to add depth, definition and beauty to the landscape of life’s journey.

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With this in mind,  we must enter the season of Lent with a deep understanding that we are wrapped in the warm and safe blanket of God’s love.  It’s a time to be with our Abba Father as if we’re His only child …in a one-on-one Father-daughter or son time.  It’s a time to enjoy His presence without the distractions that pull us away.  This is a time to grieve over sin, yes –but this is also a  healing time …a time to sit down with Jesus …a time of refreshing for the soul …a time to let God remake us into a better version of us!

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You see, if we don’t go into this season of reflection, re-focusing  and repenting with God’s love deeply implanted as our foundation, we might just crumble into a pit of despair!  We have to understand to some degree the deep, abiding, unconditional love God has for us so that we know this is a safe place and not a place of condemnation.

Begin this intimate journey without the fear and trembling of getting in trouble but instead with an  expectation of “getting my focus  right” as the Father pours more of His heart into my own.

Don’t be afraid to bring your questions to the table…questions like the ones my friend, Debby Smith, suggested–

“Is there something new you want to teach me? Is there something you want to tell me? Lord, I’m listening. “

Debby, knowing my propensity to be “all perfect and everything” in this journey,  cautioned me not to let it become a scenario in which I  feel compelled to “vacuum up every little bit of sin.”  She wisely said, “God knows what He wants to talk to you about each year.” 🙂

 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? (from Romans 8 MSG)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

With this in mind …Start Here!

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You’re invited to join us here on this space for “A Journey Through the Season of Lent” – a weekly gathering starting after March 1st  as we share insights along the path as well as wisdom gleaned through reflections in   Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter –a book published by Plough Publishing. {Click highlighted link to order.}

Credits:

~Garden photos were taken on some of my “walking it out with Jesus” walks at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Huntsville, Alabama

~Water photo taken at Lake Guntersville State Park, Guntersville, Alabama

*Song:  “In the Garden” by C. Austin Miles

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7 thoughts on “Before You Start Your Lenten Journey

  1. Hi Joy – Such a beautiful start to our Lenten season. Lenten, Resurrection, Pentecost – Love, Life, Power. That’s some Kingdom speak!

    Like

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