Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent: A Season to Start Over

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

After Christmas and Epiphany, I look forward so much to Lent. Both my wife and I really anticipate these 40+ days leading up to Easter as a unique opportunity to reassess our lives, repent of where we are not right with God and others, and finally redirect our lives toward a resurrection lifestyle that we celebrate at Easter.

Lent is a time to reassess our lives, inside and out. We can step back and take a long, hard look at the reality of our lives to see them as they really are—not what we hope they are, think they are, or try to project them to be. Standing before the Lord we allow ourselves to be totally honest.

Spiritual practices of solitude, silence and going on a retreat give us space to look afresh at our lives. Disciplines of fasting and prayer help give us clarity as we allow the Holy Spirit to point out anything that is not as it should be.

Some of us might recognize that we have become distracted. Life has many distractions, and we easily become preoccupied with work, family crises, and even the weather. While all of these things are important, Jesus calls us to seek him first—with our whole heart—and everything else will be added in due time.

Others of us could discover that we have become apathetic toward God. We don’t like to think of it in those terms, because deep down we love the Lord. Nevertheless, in our day-to-day existence we have become “ho hum” regarding time with God, we have neglected time of reading Scripture, we have lost our passion to pursue him in prayer, and we have begun to stray from our first love. Jesus says in Revelation 2:4 “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” If that has happened in our hearts, we need to face it honestly before we can change.

Still others of us realize that we have gone off track in one area of our lives or another. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way,” declares Isaiah 53:6. Indeed, this is true of each and every one of us.

Wherever we have gone astray, become apathetic or simply preoccupied, we need to turn around. This is the meaning of the word “repent”—metanoia, in Greek. It means a change our mind and change our direction.

First we must admit where we have gone astray. Confession is key to making lasting, substantive change in our lives. Often times it is when we acknowledge out loud—to God and another person—where we have sinned, that we are hit with the stark reality of what we have been doing. Precisely here is where we experience a deep sorrow. That Godly sorrow leads to repentance.

Redirection & Restoration
Then we turn around—in thought, word and deed—and go the other direction. Sorrow, repentance and, indeed, the whole season of Lent are always moving toward restoration—reorienting our lives toward God and restoring our relationship with him.

“‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
    and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
    when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’”
    -(Jeremiah 29:12-14)

As Lent begins this year, let us use this time as an opportunity to start over—whether that be in one area of our lives or in many. Let us seek the Lord with our whole heart, knowing that he is just waiting for us. Let us experience the restoration and freedom that he has for our lives.

© 2014 Glenn E. Myers

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