Wednesday Word: One Step at a Time
In case you missed the notice, today is Ash Wednesday.
This is the day when we remember our mortality. This is the day we “lament our sins and acknowledge our wretchedness.” This is the day when are asked to make a right beginning as we work to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word.
In this season we are asked to give up something that draws us away from God. In this season we are asked to take on something that draws us closer to God. Maybe we do both. Maybe we only do one of those. Maybe we succeed and change our habits and practices in such a way that our Lenten discipline carries beyond the season and forever changes our lives. Maybe we fail, and our Lenten discipline becomes yet one more resolution that couldn't last a week.
The season of Lent, and the disciplines we associate with it, aren't designed to make us miserable. The season of Lent was originally a time when converts were prepared for baptism. It was a time when “those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church.”
If you see Lent as a time to be miserable, as a time of self-flagellation, I think you are looking at it wrong.
Instead, I encourage you to see Lent as a time to make a new start. A time to separate ourselves from that which separates us from God, thereby bringing us back into full communion with our Creator.
If you think about it, life is full of little Lents: times when we work to better ourselves and strengthen relationships. In both life in general, and Lent in particular, we are making progress – maybe ever so slowly – and moving one step at a time toward our goal.
May this Lent be both a somber reminder of the times we could have been better as well as a joyful journey that changes our lives, one commitment at a time, as we approach the throne of of grace and are changed from glory to glory.