Journeying with Christ
I went to bed last night with ashes on my forehead, a tangible reminder of an evening church service that prepared hearts and minds for the submission of Jesus to the cross at Calvary. Forty days span between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, the high point of the Christian year when the resurrection of Christ that foreshadows the resurrection of believers is celebrated. These 40 days are a time of reflection, of self-examination, of prayer...of understanding our place in the journey to the cross, our spot in the garden where Jesus knelt and agonized over what was to come, our participation in his sufferings and our sharing in his glorification.
Yesterday started like a "normal" day. Lent was not so much on my mind as a good sweat as I drove to the gym at my usual 5:30-ish time frame. I had a solid cardio and weights workout which was as rejuvenating for my mind as it was for my body. I went to work and threw myself into leadership consulting and coaching...and then at some point during the day became aware of a church service that evening, and realized what I needed more than anything was not a great physical workout or success at work but an hour of stillness and a forehead smeared with ash.
For Christians, Lent can too often parallel the celebration of the New Year with its resolutions to "give something up." Our church bulletin even suggested a list of things to give up, including Facebook (not!). People always ask you, "So what are you givin' up?" But a friend from Florida, writing on my Facebook wall, noted how her pastor framed the Lenten season in terms of giving more to God--as in more time--more than focusing on giving something up.
Now, giving more time to God very often necessitates giving up something in order to free the time. But I think the key is our focus. Am I so caught up in what I am grinding my teeth and mustering my will power to do without...or am I engaging in a deeper surrender, a more profound abandonment, to the unveiling mystery of the Christ within?
Jesus, take me with you along this Lenten journey. Help me to see the faces of the men and women, the children, whose lives you touched in the final leg of your earthly ministry. Permit me to feel the emotional sting of the Judas kiss. Let me own your frustration of how those closest to you still didn't get it. Allow me the honor of sweating drops of blood next to you to as we kneel upon the fragile earth, pondering the cup of sacrifice. Bless me by granting me the privilege of understanding your sufferings as I suffer on occasion, knowing that you understand my pain and brokenness as well.