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It’s Friday … Sunday’s Coming!

“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11 NLT)

The first time I heard about Lent when I was a little girl, my cousin Julie told me she was giving up chocolate for it. I thought, “I don’t want any part of that!” Years later, when I became a committed Christian, the churches I attended didn’t even mention Lent. It’s not been a tradition in my life until maybe six years ago; I had been missing out. Here are some things I’m still learning about it…

Richness. Lent is such a rich time of thinking about, identifying with Jesus as he “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” (Luke 9:51) as he was walking to the place where he knew he was going to be tortured and killed, substituting himself for us, “for the joy that was set before him,” (Hebrews 12:2) our salvation, our ability to live Kingdom lives, for his glory. There is much meat there to chew on. Such pain and such joy.

Journey. Lent is about the journey with Jesus, a set period of time that is a microcosm of our lives as we daily take up our crosses, deny ourselves, and follow him. (Luke 9:23) It is a journey of freedom, of acknowledging the difficulty of surrendering ourselves daily – since our natural tendency is to do what we want to do with no thought to what God wants – and of letting God work in us with joy.

Training. I like the idea of training, although too often I don’t do it. Years ago, when I trained for running a half-marathon with my family, it was hard, but it also was almost easy, because we did it together. We had a set schedule; we would sometimes run separately throughout the week, but when the weekend came, we ran the long run together. Even when it was very hot, we just got up at 6:00 AM and did it together. Now, I feel like my self-control muscle needs training; I’ve never given it much attention. I used to dismiss my old pastor’s stories about how he would try to discipline himself, build up his self-control, by every once in awhile when going out with his family for ice cream, he wouldn’t get anything. That still sounds terrible to me, but I understand the thought behind it. Paul tells Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Our family is for the most part eating healthy, dairy-free and gluten-free (except for Sundays) these next few weeks, and although it’s been somewhat difficult – I sometimes use food for comfort – it’s been easier since I’m not the only one doing it. What kind of training can we do together and separately to let God work in our lives?

Gratitude and Grace. Lent is about being grateful for everything Jesus has done and is doing for us, for who he is and who we are in Christ. It is also about grace, not about earning our way to be accepted by him, but reveling in the acceptance and grace of his overwhelming love for us. Why wouldn’t we want to identify with what he went through? Why wouldn’t we want to let him work in us and through us? I’m excited to see what God is going to do in our journey of grace and freedom.

Looking toward Easter. On Sunday, Doug encouraged us to pick one addiction to give up for Lent, one thing that has more power over us than we intended to give it. The posters displayed in the sanctuary listed Power, Affirmation, Image, Comfort, Stimuli, and Busyness. If one has a control issue, that’s power; if one cares too much what people think, that’s affirmation or maybe image. If one feels insecure in their finances or finds it hard to talk to people, that’s probably comfort. I find this fascinating. The Spirit can reveal to us things that hold us back from living an awesome, surrendered life, a Kingdom life – we just need to ask him – and the other side of Easter will be a freer life than the one we are living now.

As the old sermon goes, “It’s Friday … Sunday’s coming!” What is God going to do in you?

Kelly can be reached via email.

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