Some of us have been complaining for so long, we don’t hear ourselves complain. It is by our daily and predictable grumbling that we are known by our people. Imagine if we gave up grumbling for forty days? Who would we be? What would fill the void?
Some of us have practiced self-righteous gossip for so long that we are blind to the irony. We are exceptionally diligent in discovering where others disappoint and fail to live up to expectations. It has become our second nature.
What would it look like if we gave up gossip and suspicion for forty days? What if we only spoke of the good and the excellent we saw in others? How might that shape us? Who would we be?
What would it look like if we gave up comparing ourselves to others for Lent? Could that practice change us at our very core? At our deepest place?
Lent is a wise tradition that insists God’s people take some time to deal with their biggest spiritual issue: We want our own damn way. Literally. We want our will be done. Our kingdom come.
And so the season of Lent is a mercy to God’s people, because our persistence in sin always leads to hell on earth. Left unchecked, indwelling sin sears our conscience and darkens our minds over time. It sucks our spirits dry. It causes us to see and treat other people as obstacles and problems. As enemies.
A tell-tale mark of our resistant sin is that we become easily offended and defensive. Our eyes and words become haughty and rude. The forty days of Lent, then, provides an opportunity to unearth and repent of anything that has taken root in our deepest parts that is not of God.
Because all that is inside will eventually come out. What is sown snd tended in the soil of our hearts will bear visible fruit in season. What fruit will that be? How will it look? How will it taste?
During Lent, we ask God to “…show us any offensive way in us, and lead us into life everlasting…” Do you need some help getting started on a Lenten journey? Here are a few questions you might consider as you prepare for the season:
*Where and when am I most easily offended?
*What people do I view as ‘problems’ or ‘obstacles’ in my path?
*Have I thought, or spoken, unkindly of anyone?
*What have I done just for appearance?
*Where do I most compare myself to others?
*When I grumble or complain, what is it usually concerning?
*Am I warm, cheerful, and sensitive to everyone?
*What has captured my attention to such a degree that my devotion to Christ and his church are less than whole-hearted?
The season of Lent renews our hope! Our sin no longer shapes and enslaves us. We are not left to our own dead-end devices. We have been rescued, called into a spacious place, and given a new life – one that is enlivened and shaped by Jesus.
Lent reminds us each year that God is busy making his people into a community that looks more and more like heaven. His Kingdom come. His will be done.
Grace and peace to you this season,