Today is Ash Wednesday, the day on the church calendar that begins the Lenten season. The quiet, somber mood of the season seems appropriate to me right now. I feel heavy in my spirit. Like the psalmist I feel “my sin is ever before you.” I am aware of the depth and sorrow of my sin in ways I never knew before. My heart feels tender and tears come easily.
This morning I cleared out my blog reader of all but a few blogs that always encourage me. I didn’t do this for some kind of Lenten fast, I just need space. I need quiet. I need to not feel guilty about what I am not doing because the guilt I heap upon myself is enough. I need to just be. I need the emotional and physical space to allow myself to walk through these feelings of grief and guilt and mourning. I need to stop numbing myself with media and distractions.
This morning I read:
Ancient, likewise, is the season of Lent, when the Christian is encouraged to think of her death and the sin that caused it – to examine herself, to know herself so deeply and well that knowledge becomes confession. But ancient, too, is the consolation such an exercise provides, ancient precisely because it is eternal. It is this: that when we genuinely remember the death we deserve to die, we will be moved to remember the death the Lord in fact did die – because his took the place of ours. Ah, children, we will yearn to hear the Gospel story again and again, ever seeing therein our death in his, and rejoicing that we will therefore know a rising like his as well. – Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin, Jr. pg 22
There is the beautiful promise of grace! The promise that I cling to even on the days when I can’t possibly believe it is true. The words that God whispers over and over again, “I love you!”
Zacchaeus didn’t have to do anything to make Jesus love him. And neither do you. Because, you see, God’s love is a free gift. You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You can’t pay for it. You need only open your hands to receive it. – Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago
I don’t walk through Lent as an exercise in self-despair or self-condemnation or self-deprivation. No, this is a process of examining myself and knowing myself and through that examination being pointed again to God’s love for me. It is a process of clinging to the promise that something new will rise.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me (words by Chris Rice)