This is Lent, the time of year we enter into a season of mystery. Of wonder and love. The mystery of our God Who became a Man. A Man who willingly suffered and died for us.
I grew up attending a church that taught about the “church calendar” and the Lenten journey was part of that. Lent is a 40-day season in which many followers of Jesus contemplate Jesus’ journey to the cross. This reflective time culminates on Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
I wanted to find God but I didn’t think He could be found in the church.
Growing up, even though we attended church as a family, somehow I never understood any of what Jesus was all about. The disconnect, between me and what I was not understanding at church, was vast. It eventually led me to tell my mom I wanted to find God but I didn’t think He could be found in the church. I had a deep desire for God at that point. It was visceral. But it didn’t seem to me the relationship I was looking for could be found within the 4 walls of organized religion. I wanted to find God. I couldn’t have cared less about the church calendar or any of the other trappings of religion I was learning about at church. At the tender age of 14, I rejected it all. And so my life launched. Off I went into adolescence, a tiny boat in the big open sea without a rudder.
I was 23 when God got my attention. He deftly came to me and everything changed forever. I am not saying my life was (or is) perfect by any means, but the trajectory of my life was definitely on a new course. It was a course set by – and set to – God.
I love that the purpose of God is to find lost children. Jesus says in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” And at this point, I was oh so very lost. The way He came to me actually gave me a deep trust that God is really good at finding His kids no matter how far they have strayed. I don’t need to wring my hands over when and how He might do that in anyone’s life. He is so good to come and find us, giving us His love, purpose, and hope in the finding.
It took me awhile to get back to embracing the tradition of Lent that once seemed so empty and lifeless. But I have come to love and appreciate this season of deep reflection of the Life that was poured out for me. Each year it looks a bit different as there is no right or wrong way to observe the Lenten season. For forty days I like to find ways to meditate on Jesus’ lived out, completely sacrificial love. Somehow this has been a good time to reset my awareness of what the Lord has done for me. He is not some aloof god on a heavenly throne, indifferent to His people. In His humanity, He came to us, lived among us, suffered and died for us. And in His
Reading the gospels, I can’t help but notice there are different perspectives from the different writers about the life of Jesus. But one thing they all have in common is they all speak of Jesus’ relentless journey to Jerusalem where He knew rejection, betrayal, suffering and death awaited Him, the Author of life. We see His purpose and intent. Clearly. This is the heart of our God.
Taking the twelve disciples aside,
Jesus said, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem,
where all the predictions of the prophets
concerning the Son of Man will come true.
He will be handed over to the Romans,
and He will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon.
They will flog Him with a whip and kill Him,
but on the third day He will rise again.”
But they didn’t understand any of this.
The significance of His words was hidden from them,
and they failed to grasp what He was talking about.
Like His disciples I know there is so much I don’t know. The grace and mercy He has for us
I also find Jesus, God with us, understands what I am going through. He endured so much. As the writer of Hebrews mentions, He is able to empathize with me in my weakness. Sometimes He is the only One. Somehow He reaches me with His understanding, His empathy, and in this, I find comfort that defies explanation. There is something so poignant about His brokenness; I know He gets it. This helps me face my own brokenness. I remember He is with me; I am never alone.
You too, might take a bit of time here and there, between now and Good Friday, to remember Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and the cross. You may or may not give something up. There are no rules. This could be as simple at taking these 40 days to meditate on Isaiah 53. Isaiah spoke of Jesus as the Man of sorrows, the One Who was familiar with suffering, centuries before Christ was born, yet no one seemed to be waiting for such a King. The world understands strength and power. Only God could have conceived of our need for the Man acquainted with the deepest of grief. There many ways you could engage with the Lord during the Lenten season. Be creative. In any case, I pray as you examine your own life in light of the cross, you will find it to be a time of renewing awareness, a time of recognizing Jesus to be worthy of trusting and following.
Who has believed our
To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?
2 My Servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance,
nothing to attract us to Him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses He
it was our sorrow that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!
5 But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and
treated harshly, yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned, He
No one cared that He died without descendants,
But He was struck down for the rebellion of My people.
9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave.
10 But it was the Lord’s
good plan to crush Him and cause Him grief.
Yet when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands.
11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because of His experience,
My righteous Servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.