The real man is at liberty to be his Creator’s creature. To be conformed with the Incarnate is to have the right to be the man one really is. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Over the past weeks I’ve been to retreats, cooked meals, met new people, planned ministry events, been invited to dinners, made phone calls, spent time with friends, celebrated . . . and read, wrote, cleaned, organized finances . . . the list could go on. It doesn’t take long before days, weeks, and months are overflowing with tasks.
It’s in the midst of such a hectic schedule that Lent is such a relief. It’s a gift to have an expectation to give up something, slow down.
Time to reflect. To return to God. To breathe again.
At the same time I also wonder how to describe Lent to people outside of the church – as well as to many people within. It’s not a practice or festival that is in the Bible. It also seems to run counter to the picture of hope and abundance that is often central to Christianity. Does Jesus really want us to go around looking sorrowful and depriving ourselves?
No, but throughout his words there are many messages about repentance, carrying our crosses, and persecution. These are not the jubilant voices of preachers on a Sunday morning or the comforting words of a friend. They are the earnest pleadings of God wanting us to look at reality. To see what is really before us, in all its brokenness, instead of painting false pictures. A God who yearns to heal us. In current western society that admires image, wants to create a better narrative no matter how far it is from reality, we need this call more than ever.
This is lent. It provides a time to recalibrate the stories in our lives. To remove the false versions of ourselves and others. To see God as God is and ourselves as his creatures. To step out of the daily routine. It’s a time when it’s okay to reflect. It’s okay to remove our masks as we hear we are ashes, we are dust.
What we each give up or take on isn’t as important as the practice of doing so – and Christ breaking into this time to reveal the Truth and to set us free. Free to be broken and to step into this mess with Jesus in the midst.
How will you find relief and break from the routine in your life over the next weeks to open yourself to God’s calling to repent – see reality as it is and turn to Him?