Feb 18, 2009

7 days to 40

In a week we'll begin "Lent" - something many sum up as a "religious" thing. But in the times you and I live in, it's intensely practical... lent is at its core about facing our true humanity, dealing with the sin that tries to dwells within us, and reclaiming a tremendous hope that we often cast aside.

The 40 days many people practice Lent through is just the beginning. It helps us to pay attention to things we don't often listen to, helping us realize what we spend too much and too little time on. It forces us to get fed up with the things we swallow without question, allowing us to enjoy the life God created for us without spending losing its quality on other things.

But Lent is larger than those 40 days... while it can remind us of the darkness we can still carry, it also helps us live in the light of the resurrection. It is a catalyst that says "You are here," but simultaneously points out "You can be 'Here' instead."

Today I spoke with a friend and we spoke of a phrase - "Green Mile-ing" - referencing the movie with Tom Hanks where he works in the death row section of a prison. One day a large prisoner is transferred in, only he ends up being more than a simple inmate. One several occasions, this simple man grabs others who are sick or dealing with some form of internal darkness, and then he lets go, coughing and gasping until he releases a cloud of black insect-like spores from his mouth. Eventually the guard played by Tom Hanks transfers out of this prison and all of the grim scenarios he had become accustomed to as "normal."

In many of us there is a need to deliberately do that - start "Green Mile-ing" all of the darkness within us through Someone who will release us from that death, exchanging it for life. Lent gives us that chance... maybe an excuse, call it what you want... to turn back toward the Who and What that matters most.

Keep in mind, we miss this and the true power of Resurrection Sunday (Easter) if we don't take advantage of this season of preparation. Lent has not been well observed in many Christian circles, largely because it's associated as too "high church." Even today, Lent is marked by a time of preparation, sacrifice, and prayer to celebrate Jesus' Holy Week. But again - it's intensely practical, just like the events of Holy Week are (but often are overlooked).

I want to challenge you to consider of the next 7 days how the next 40 days after that can change everything. Consider the stuff you need to get off your chest, from the "Green Mile-ing" vomiting you need to release, to the new life you need to start reclaiming. As a church, we'll be providing some resources that I'll also post here to help with that process. But right now, on your own, begin to place yourself into a position to hear God in ways that you have not heard Him in a long time... ways that may be the beginning of a healing you've been longing for.

Because the best case solution to your life is more than a one-day celebration on April 12th... it's includes owning up to the journey that gets you there, and the life that awaits you on the other side of the Resurrection.

Such a journey begins in ashes hidden in oil, and continues with a nail-pierced arm wrapped around you.
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-18)

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