Lent is a season of the church year when we intentionally and purposefully walk with Christ. It is the season of the year that leads us to the Three Holy Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Lent is the precursor to our salvation–played out in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are on this journey for 40 days to mimic the time Jesus was in the wilderness. For 40 days Jesus wandered the wilderness. For 40 years the Israelites wandered the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. For 40 days we walk to the cross during Lent.
“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness”Mark 1:12
Two lessons from this stand out. The first is a vital element to the story of Jesus and his time of temptation. Right after his baptism–while he was still dripping wet it appears–Jesus was sent to the wilderness. He was driven into this time of loneliness. He was forced into a period of isolation. Who forces Jesus do do anything, you ask? It was the Holy Spirit.
What Does This Tell Us?
Maybe–just maybe–when things are in the dumps and a lot harder than we would like–even though God desires the very best for us–in his wisdom God knows that we grow and learn the best when we are pushed. When things are a struggle–those are the places and the times when we mature and ripen. Hardship, toil, wrestling–they are life’s teachers. What does it mean that the Holy Spirit leads you–no, drives you–into places where you are tested, tried, and pressure cooked? For one thing, it doesn’t mean you are alone. We need to strike from our spiritual mindset any thought that hardship means we’ve been abandoned or that God has denied us joy and delight. You are not abandoned in your struggles. God is working and He invites you to partner in the work. Striving, yearning, reaching–these are the efforts we bring to God’s holy work in us. These are the holy works of our wilderness times.
Wednesday Teachings in Lent
Fear and Hope: Faith For These Days
In the absence of our Wednesday Worships in Lent, I will be sharing a video teaching series. It will be released each week at Noon on Wednesday and available for you to watch at anytime on our live stream channels.
As we continue to live through this Pandemic and so much other turmoil in our lives, we will unpack and uncover our greatest weapon to combat the fear that paralyzes us–hope. If fear is a cloud that keeps us from seeing clearly–hope is the sunshine the breaks through. Join us these Wednesdays as we grow in faith. Together.
And, we all know the wilderness we have endured. More so than at any other point in our life times, collectively we have endured a vast wilderness this past year. But, we have not been abandoned. And, while I don’t believe for a second that the Holy Spirit drove us into this pandemic–I equally know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Holy Spirit is working to teach, lead, mature, and grow us in this season. The fair question each of us must ask ourselves: are we listening? Are we partnering and bringing anything to the table in striving, learning, focused attention on our walk with God?
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
The second lesson we glean from Lent is the imagery of a journey. We began on Ash Wednesday with a look at Paul’s horticulture of the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-26 reminds us that life is about walking with our Lord. The opening line is about walking in step with the Spirit. It is about what the Spirit is awakening within us, growing and ripening this fruit. There is a trajectory to our maturity in a life of faith. We move from new and novice towards experienced and seasoned. Growing is a sign of vitality. Movement is a sign of health. Stagnate followers of Jesus don’t keep up because Jesus is on the move.
Growing is a sign of vitality. Movement is a sign of health. Stagnate followers of Jesus don’t keep up because Jesus is on the move.
Going all the way back to the start, the imagery in the garden paints a picture of God’s desire. “And (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” Genesis 3:8 This is what God wants. From the beginning walking with the Lord God is the goal and hopeful image for our relationship. Of course, our sin and deceit has become a huge barrier to this seamless relationship. We must learn to walk again. We might even consider adding a phrase to Paul’s treatise on love. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, I walked like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways…” 1 Corinthians 13:11
All of this is to say, this Lent, be intentional about walking with God. Like my sweet Ella when she was young, walking in my shoes was hard. She tripped over them and she walked right out of those shoes when she tried to go her own way. In this moment, however, she was proud of herself. She found the right place to put her feet. Even though they didn’t fit and it wasn’t quite right, she was on the right track. She was figuring things out. This Lent, what does it mean for you to walk in step with the Spirit. What does it look like to take one step closer to Christ? His greatest desire is to walk with you in the cool of the evening. Take a step today along that garden stroll.