Thomas Merton said: “We are not converted only once in our lives but many times, and this endless series of large and small conversions, inner revolutions, leads to our transformation in Christ.”
As a child, I was considered a Pollyanna in our family. A glass-half-full, sun-is-always-shining type of person. So it may be surprising to know that I look forward to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent! I look forward to this season in the church precisely because it has so much potential to make me more like Christ. We are always being transformed into Christlikeness by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit but Lent is the invitation to engage more intentionally and deeply into this inner transformation.
Like getting onto I-495 from a small side road, we allow God to speed up this process in us and we acknowledge our need for him to do so. When Lent approaches we often start thinking about what we are going to give up at a surface level: caffeine, naps, chocolate, alcohol, etc. There is an underlying falsehood here that what Jesus desires for us in Lent is to give up things that we enjoy. In its truest form, Lent is about getting even closer to our truest and gladdest desire: deeper intimacy with our Savior. The presence of God is the place of truest spiritual transformation and thus we step on the gas a bit and let our guard down to the grace of God working in us. The place that Jesus invites us into with him is the wilderness. For 40 days. He invites us to do what He did in the wilderness, to put ourselves completely in God’s hands. Lent is an invitation for us to surrender our will, again, to the One who Created us and knit us together. It is an opportunity to make a fresh start with God and to acknowledge how hopeless we are without Him.
As the wilderness was a time of preparation for Jesus, so Christ prepares our hearts during Lent to take in again the enormity of truth that was His willing sacrifice for us. What route will we choose through the desert this Lent? Will we try to drive around the dessert or choose to look at it from Google Earth instead? Or will we take Jesus’ hand and say again, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in me. Join us March 11 in Baltimore or March 25 at Corhaven for a day away to really dive into what this means for you. No matter what way you choose to engage with Lent this year know that it won’t be the practice itself that transforms us but our willingness to change. To repent. May the Lord bless each of our small surrenders for His glory!