Lent: A Call to Repent

Missouri has decided it is spring. Yesterday, we met the cool morning air, with the sun starting to warm the earth and began the work of pulling up dead plants. Our tulips and daffodils burst from the ground a couple weeks ago, and now our lilies and sedum are making their presence known. Unlike the tulips and daffodils who bloom early and then die away, sedum and lilies grow for longer. They are in it for the long haul of summer. They don’t really die off until we head into fall. As a result, we left their dead and dying remains to be buried by blankets of snow and frost.

This makes for careful work this spring. We pulled away their insulation of leaves and admired the green sprouts protruding through the dried brown death of last year. Tangled and mingled together I had to carefully extract the dead from the tiny shoots.

I find it no accident that Jesus died and rose again in spring. Spring is the season of rebirth, renewal, life bursting out of the decay of fall and winter. And through Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us the same chance to engage in rebirth, renewal, and everlasting life.

If we slow down, the rhythm of nature testifies to the works of God. Not just in beauty, but in life, death, and resurrection. 

Lent: Facing Our Brokenness

The reason I choose to participate in Lent is because it helps us slow down and clear away the internal clutter as we focus on Jesus. Lent is an intentional period of reflection, repentance, and rejuvenation. The fasting that often accompanies it functions not only as  reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, but as a call to repentance. Repentance empowers us to clear away that which obstructs our view of God: distractions, busyness, social media, sin, etc.

Coming from a heritage of faith that does not traditional participate in Lent, I understand and fully agree with the sentiment that we should always strive to strip away these things and live a life of repentance, not just approaching Easter. However, when we started participating in Lent a few years ago we found it deeply moving. Life has different seasons, cycles, and rhythms, just like nature. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it feels timely to me to take time to slow down and reflect.

During the spring, we follow Jesus to the cross and joyously await his victory over sin and death. But along this journey, I want to take a serious look at myself, my heart, my motives. What in my life do I need to put to death so that I can experience the life Christ offers to the fullest?

Repentance: A leaving behind, sacrificing, turning away from. As God turns my heart more closely toward him, I feel the familiar itches of pride, selfishness, jealousy, and appearance weighing me down. God invites me in, calling me to go deeper, but I know to do so, I must lay these things down. I cannot press on, walking in his will while wearing these shackles.

Still, I am broken. Weary. Unsure. Anxiety presses into my most vulnerable moments whispering that my efforts are not enough. I am not enough. Fatigue steals my days choice by choice. Sin runs deep. Its roots twisting around my inmost being–threatening to undo me if I yank too hard.

Fortunately, it is not about me being enough. I have a savior and king who paid the price for me. He has made all things new, including making us right with him.

The Beautiful Undone

Just as life comes from death, hope arises from the ashes of our brokenness. When we lay our lives down: sin, appearances, expectations, plans, and dreams–Jesus shows up. He replaces fear with boldness, pain with hope, lies with truth. He calls us to be undone. To repent of our sin, accept our brokenness, and turn to him–the healer and provider. Our Father in heaven is also our savior sacrificed as a lamb, and the Spirit of God moving and breathing in our being.

He doesn’t cringe at our brokenness. He looks into the eyes of those drowning in shame and says “I do not condemn you. Leave your life of sin.” He sees his child coming back to him and runs to meet him. You are his Beloved.

You are his child. His Beloved. No matter what you have done. He pursues you. Calls you. Beckons you to return. 

He wants more for us than we are often willing to believe. He offers us a place at his table–as heirs. We are called his children. His Beloved. Those he would, and did do anything to save.

But we have to return. We must be willing to be undone and remade, reborn, resurrected. 

If you are considering participating in Lent–it is not too late. For some ideas or devotionals to guide you, here are my current favorites:

  1. A free Lent devotional by Michelle DeRusha.
  2. Ann Voskamp’s free lent devotional and 40 days of prayer and repentance cards. These have been very impactful for me this year.
  3. One of my favorite bands to listen to on CD (cause I’m old school) or via Spotify is The Brilliance. Playing reflective music throughout my day while I wash dishes or cook helps me stay in reflection and prayer and worship.

Do you practice Lent? What helps guide your heart?