Wednesday, February 13, 2013

40 Days

"Your thoughts....."

It was the subject of her email, and apparently the answer to my own question about endeavoring to start a new blog.

My mom wanted to "tap" my brain about the issue of giving up something for Lent. It is a tradition in many church bodies, ours included, and yet each year Ash Wednesday creeps up on us, plummeting us into an abyss of questions regarding our choices of whether or not to "give something up," and what and why and how.

I recently read a most eloquent post on the topic by Ann Voskamp, but my mom wants my thoughts, my words. It's perhaps a bit heavy for a first post, but why not go a little crazy. Here we go:

Lent is turbulence. Lest we think that all the smooth sailing in the world can make this planet our home, we find that Lent knocks us around spiritually just a bit. Just 40 days. Just long enough to remind us that we aren't home yet. We are wandering through an intimidating wilderness, and Lent takes up the task of pointing our nose to the manna, the physical reality that we can't survive this wandering alone, and each day brings us closer to Him, not by our power but by His alone.

Lent isn't what you find in other religions- achieving enlightenment by deprivation. Rather, the deprivation we experience in Lent is meant to open our eyes to a deeper and more profound realization of our need for Christ. It forms us into those who celebrate even the smallest of joys because we are acutely aware that their presence in our lives are straight-up gifts. Undeserved, yet lavished upon us. Those who boast and moan about their Lenten sacrifices, just as I have done, may be trading in the depth of growth for the "oohs" and "ahhs" of the less holy rest-of-us. I am still waiting for the brave soul who approaches me with the desire to give up sinning for Lent.

There is no point in even comparing our sacrifices with that of Christ, the disparity being unfathomable. And still, those microscopic give-em-ups are magnified in our minds so much that we can't even follow through with them. Yet it is in the face of our failure that we hear our Savior's words, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

So will I give something up? Well, it's noon on Ash Wednesday and I still haven't decided. Will I decide to "take" something up? Ta-da! Blog! Looks like I may be taking up courage this Lent. And then perhaps this 40 days will give way to a more incredible resurrection joy that my writing can only hope to convey.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10