Monday, March 14, 2011

This Lent Thing

Ah, this lent thing.

It's hard.

Really hard.

I keep slipping. I forget. I get frustrated. I have even had someone close to me laugh at me for doing it. "What? We don't practice lent. What in the world? Why are you doing that? I guess next you are going to have a black X on your forehead." When I tried to explain - "cricket's chirping". While I know the words were not meant to wound, I allowed them to slice clean and deep. It hurt.

This person was right. Our church background had not observed lent in the past. We are not a liturgical church. But lately, in my quest for renewal, I have had such a strong desire to draw closer to God and what I understood of Lent seemed like a good way to do that. I wanted to deny myself of something to remind me of what He gave for me. I wanted to enter into a sacred commitment that would cause me to depend on Him more. I wanted to do something that required more than what I normally give. I wasn't really sure what to expect.

But I know I didn't expect I would fail so soon.

I failed on the second day. What I had given up, what I had determined to sacrifice for 40 days, what I had promised to deny myself of in order to draw closer to God, well, I forgot. I forgot. On the second day I forgot all about it.

As I have been reading through my Bible in a year plan, I have spent the last several weeks in Leviticus and Numbers. Boring. Slow, Redundant. Legalism to the nth degree. So many laws to keep. So many rules. So much blood. So much sacrifice. So many harsh consequences for sin - intentional sin and unintentional sin. The Israelite people weren't allowed to forget the law. Many times as I have read the daily scripture allotment (without skipping any words), I have thought to myself: I am so glad I didn't live back then. I am so glad I don't have to try to keep all those rules. I couldn't do it. Are you kidding? I now know that by day two in the wilderness I would most likely have already been struck dead.

And that was when I realized that is precisely the point. I can't do it. I can't keep the law perfectly. Nobody can. We need a Savior. We need grace. We need the sacrificial Lamb that takes away all the sin in the world. We need an advocate, One who willingly paid the price of all the sin, all the wrong, all the forgetting. He did it for me. I am off the hook. I am saved by grace and grace alone! I am not going to be judged because I forgot a law. I don't have to keep a tally of all the rules. My relationship with Jesus is all I need. What a sweet relief! What a debt of gratitude I owe.

Practicing Lent is teaching me how inadequate I am and how adequate He is. It is teaching me how much Jesus loves me.

Oh this Lent thing. It is hard.

But it is good.


Becky said...

Hey, I really love your new blog look. Very cheering!

And boy, this post is RIGHT ON. Perfect. So true. Whoda thunk? And we are all in this together, this trying hard to understand where we fit in and what it is he really did for us. I mean, I know we know ... you know? But do we REALLY BELIEVE what we know? Lent helps, whether it is an-every-year-liturgical-thing or a new way to learn more and connect in a different way.

I'm sorry you were hurt. But I'm glad you are learning. Your Word of the Year is a serious thing and that is a good thing.

About time we did our "link up" for what we are learning this year. I'll have to get that ready.

Girl Raised in the South said...

I was raised part of my childhood at a church that practiced lent. I haven't followed it since, but enjoyed your thoughts on it. I'm reading thru the Bible this year too, in Deuteronomy and those first few after Exodus are tough, but iVe had the same thoughts as you regarding freedom from trying to earn it all myself. Thanks for sharing.

Robyn Q said...

Robin, I so love your words. I am not practicing Lent but I fully respect those that are - some very close ones. What I adore about our freedom in Christ is the ability to choose. When our lives are "organic", growing wildly according to the Holy Spirit, choosing sacrifice, learning deeper love, the best fruit is ripened in His vine.

You hang in there! Celebration waits in the wings. Renew.

Blessings & hugs,

Michelle said...

What a powerful post, and I admit, one I needed to read. Thanks for the reminder.

Also thank you for your comment about my 'heavy' post regarding Kayla's future. Your wise words were very much appreciated!

I'm sure you're getting anxious to meet the newest arrival of your family!