The season of Lent is a strange time. I find it odd that I need a time to refocus on who God is… I mean He’s God, creator of everything. Why should I need a time to stop and refocus? And yet, that’s exactly where I find myself now. I’ve been in a period of not recognizing God. I mean I know He’s here, I know that He’s real; but I’ve fallen away from the practice of experiencing Him.
So I find myself in this season of remembering. Remembering who He is. Remembering what He has done. Remembering that He has, is and always will be. Remembering that He is here and that He is there. It’s a really odd time. A season to remember that what I know as reality is, in fact, only a fading vapor. A season to remember that I am connected to the infinite.
This is a season of fast and slow. Fasting to slow down. I can’t count the number of times throughout the year that I tell myself “you’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to take a moment to spend with Abba.”, only to step right back into the hectic lifestyle that I’ve created for myself. The further that I remove myself from the habit of experiencing God the further I dive into self. The more I become consumed by my life, my “to do” lists, my goals, and my plans. If there’s one thing I’ve been blessed to learn in my 32 years on this planet, it’s that “I” doesn’t get me too far… as a matter of fact it usually leads me to a place that is impossible to satisfy. It leads me to a place of endless and impossible to achieve performance based value.
As I was preparing to for our churches small group on Tuesday night, the night before Lent began, I was going through James 5. I was drawn to the parallels between that chapter and the season of Lent.
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.” (James 5:1-6, ESV)
This section of scripture is where I have found my heart. Chasing after the things that satisfy my flesh. At first it may appear that this section of scripture must be about a much more extreme person that myself or yourself, but if you read it these are people that are searching for earthly fulfillment and doing that at any cost. These are people who are searching for value in things that are temporary, and I would argue that we are all guilty of that on multiple levels throughout our lifetime. Chasing after these things only brings misery, I know from experience. Things of this earth will never satisfy a craving that was never meant to be satisfied here. We are designed to want something more than this life can offer. It’s more than a want even… it’s a desire, or a need. We need something more! We search for it through personal validation, through getting bigger and better things, through physical gratification; but in the end these all leave us empty.
The season of Lent allows me to stop. Stop striving. Stop trying to earn my value. My value has already been determined, and I was declared more valuable than human life itself. I was declared so valuable that God himself came to earth wrapped in skin. God subjected himself to unspeakable torture and betrayal. When I begin to try and determine my own value by my own works I’m spitting in the face of Jesus on the cross…
And i do it, time and time again.
I spit. I walk away. I call Him foolish and say that I have a better way.
You see, this is a season to recognize that. To fast… fast to slow down. Slow down and recognize that my value has been sealed, and it’s more than I could ever fathom.
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:7-11, ESV)
This is a season to be patient. A season to wait. A season to remind our hearts what it means to wait on the Lord.
A season to cast aside the desires that our heart has invented and grab hold of the desires that bring fulfillment and meaning.
This is a time to remember the work of Christ on the cross. The remember that weight that carries.
It’s our time to return to the foot of the cross and remember the work that was done there, and what it declares over us.
YOU ARE VALUABLE.
YOU ARE LOVED.
YOU ARE AMAZING.