I’ve been “feeling Lent” recently. Have you been feeling Lent? (If the term “Lent” is unfamiliar to you, it is the 40 day period prior to Easter. It is a contemplative period, when many Christians fast or engage in extra works of service in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.)
A couple weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night burdened with the brokenness of humanity and did not return to sleep. My anxiety only grew as dawn drew near. I spent some good time journaling the next day and continue to reflect on what God might be trying to tell me in all of this.
I was nearly overwhelmed with the mess we humans have created. I think first of our injustice towards each other. Our oppression of Black, indigenous, and people of color. The Christian church’s culpability in this ongoing racism. What does God think of the way we treat each other? I have to wonder if God regrets promising to never again wipe out the human race (Gen. 8:21). Why doesn’t God look at us and think its time to start over? Because, instead, God has already given us Jesus as the means of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Thank you, God!
If the way we treat each other wasn’t bad enough, there is the way we have treated our planet home. We have fouled our nest. And we just seem to continue, blindly ignoring what is happening all around us. What are we leaving for the following generations? I am ashamed of myself.
On top of all this, war has broken out again. How can this be? What can leaders be thinking? What kind of fear or greed drives someone to invade a nation without apparent provocation? I don’t understand. What is humanity doing?
Yes, I am feeling Lent. What can I do about any of this? These problems, this brokenness, this sin, is largely built into the systems we have created around ourselves. I can work to dismantle these systems, but nothing is going to happen fast. I am not sure I can make any big changes in the future of the human race. (Duh!)
So how do I live? How do I live now, and here? What differences can I make at my small level? How can I make a difference with those around me, my children, grand-children, friends, and neighbors? What do I do, Lord, what do I do?
I can LOVE. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God.” “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” “We love because he first loved us.” I can even try to learn to love my enemies, even those who disagree with so much that I believe to be true. I can LOVE.
I can TEACH and BE AN EXAMPLE OF PEACE, JUSTICE, AND LOVE. Not just can I try to do these things myself, but I can encourage, enable, and perhaps teach and lead others in living this way.
I can PRAY. Last weekend I worked on a Via de Cristo (a Christian renewal movement Janet and I have been associated with for 45 years, https://vdcww.com/ ) and one of the many excellent speakers said that called God calls us to “Pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on us.” I like that!
I can TRUST. The theme verse for last weekend’s Via de Cristo was Pro. 3:5-6. Condensed, this verse might read, “Trust God, don’t try to figure everything out. Listen for God’s voice, He will keep you on track.” I came away from the weekend with two important things to think about and work on. One is trusting God. Not necessarily that God will make everything all right, or suddenly fix all of humanity’s brokenness. I’m afraid humanity may have to face the consequences of our terrible behavior. But I think God will be there even in the midst of the consequences. And there will be a future, what kind I don’t know, but there will be a future. I can trust in God. And I can learn to love my enemies, to understand them as much as possible, to not write them off, but to listen, and to love, the best I can.
We had a theme song for the weekend. “Build My Life”, https://youtu.be/Z32HiCoFzlU
I wrote down part of the lyrics, wanting to remember them and make them part of who I try to be.
“I will build my life upon your love.
It is a firm foundation.
I will put my trust in You alone,
And I will not be shaken.”
So, yes, I am feeling Lent, very Lent right now. But I am watching for the resurrection, waiting for Jesus. I will love. I will trust. And “trustinggrace”, I will not be shaken. Will you join me in watching for Jesus?