Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beauty of Lent

Lent is nearly over. Next week death itself works backward and the tomb is empty. Next week He is risen indeed.

But right now we are still waiting. We are waiting, and sometimes we wonder if the waiting will ever end. We are waiting, and things haven't come out right, yet. We are waiting, and when we are unsure about the nighttime, morning seems awfully far away.

The forty days of Lent can be hard to understand. Somehow we usually figure out the first part, but not the best part. The first part is that we are sinners. It is my wickedness, not the nails, that held the God-Man on the third wooden cross that day at Golgotha. It is my wickedness that scourged, mocked, and killed the only innocent One. It is because of my wickedness that the Father turned His face away and the Son sweat blood. When I think on that, for even a short moment, I should very well despair. And it is a despair that could never end, because my list of unworthiness has only grown every time my head touches the pillow at night. This is a truth we have to face. A truth that we must honestly look at. We are guilty.

 But that should never be where you stop and stay, because that's not where the Story ends. And this next part is actually the hard part, because it's hard to believe in a grace so glorious. It's hard to know He'll rip away your scales and wash you clean, because you're sure in your heart that you really deserve to remain that terrible dragon forever. It's hard to know that He'll run to meet you, His wayward son, and forgive you all that is past. It's hard to fathom a kind of love that makes harlots into brides and murderers into saints.

That is what Lent is truly about. It's about a grace so strong, and a forgiveness so deep, and a love so wonderful, that all the power of death cannot hold it back. This is what we must hold onto. This is what makes Lent beautiful. We are wretched, but the King is coming. He'll be here soon. He was born to die - that's the first part. But He was born to rise again - and that's the best part. So Lent should not be a time of dark despair, and it should not be a time we ignore. Instead, our hearts should overflow with joy, because we are forgiven. When I think on that, even for a short moment,  I cannot help but be at peace. My unworthiness grows every day that I am alive, yes, but His forgiveness never runs out. Wonder at it all, these last days of Lent. Wonder at the impossible weight of your sin. Wonder at the perfect strength of His love. Jesus turns death into life and sinners into saints. Hallelujah.

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