As Holy Week approaches, it seems a good time to think back on the past five weeks of Lent and consider the lessons we have learned. We can take these lessons into Holy Week to help us connect more deeply to the familiar yet incomprehensible story that illuminates the reach of God’s love.
We have considered the miracle, love, celebration and reality of forgiveness this Lenten season. I'm grateful that I have taken on a Lenten fast and the instruction of the church fathers to reconsider my sinful state before a Holy God. I'm so quick to ignore the sinfulness that I wake up to every day. I grow accustomed to my patterns of sin and gloss over them to focus on more important things like other people’s sins, my problems, my dreams and more. Even with all the sins I have considered this Lent, I know that I have continued my pattern of overlooking many sins that are right in front of me. This problem of sin is overwhelming.
Once I learn how sinful my sin really is, I am ready for Holy Week. I need Holy Week and all that happened more than I will ever know. I am eager to relearn the lessons from the events of Easter recorded in the Gospels that have become so familiar to me. I want them to cross the barriers my sinful soul puts up against receiving the fullness of God’s love.
Another lesson I learn from a Lenten fast is how amazing God’s love really is. The days that I gloss over my sin and never consider how offensive I am to my Holy-All-Wise God, I don't connect deeply with His love for me. However, in the Lenten season, when my soul agrees to the cleansing power of confession, I become stumped by the magnitude of God’s grace. God’s love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. He alone makes me want to be better, and he alone can actually make me better.
Paul described it so well in Philippians 2:12-13:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
These scriptures inform me that my desire for obedience will only be fulfilled as I open my soul to the power of God to deliver me from sin.
These lessons from Lent are important to learn so that we can live in this world in a manner that pleases God. I adopted a puppy during Lent. He is the sweetest and cutest puppy to me. He has a lot to learn. He has strong tendencies to be the alpha dog. It is vital that I teach him how he must behave to live in my house with all who enter. If he can't learn to get along with the cat, children, and people who come into my house, he cannot be with me. I teach him because I love him and I want him to be with me. It is the same way with God. God calls my attention to my sin, offers Himself to cover the cost of my sin, and shows me the depth of His love for one purpose. He wants me to be with Him where He is. The lessons of Lent are lifetime lessons. I'm learning how to live so that I can get along with my Master and all who live with Him in heavenly realms.