This Lent, I thought I was going to skate through it, my bag was packed with all the necessary stuff I thought I would need, but I emotionally packed for a different Lenten trip.
I packed compassion, love, concern, a focus for the hurting ones in my life.
I knew I was going to meet grief head-on, and for the first weeks of Lent I did, I met grief head on, but not my grief.
I was prepared to go into spiritual battle for the hearts of my “people” that had been crushed into a million pieces by death, diagnosis, abandonment, unbelief, major loss of hope.
I packed my Lenten suitcase with God’s love to pour out over everyone in my life that needed to be reminded that He never lets them go.
I didn’t pack my bag to be ambushed by God who scheduled a deep cleansing, a scrubbing away of that sore in my heart, a spring cleaning of my heart.
I hadn’t packed all the armor that was needed to soothe my wounded places.
I had forgotten to remember….
I had learned that Lent was not about giving up watermelon (which was my standard answer when asked “what are you giving up”).
It was a time of preparation and repentance, but what was I suppose to prepare for and was I suppose to repent for all my daily sins or just the BIG ones?
It became very confusing, so this year I was giving up ME, and focusing on everyone else.
I was going to dwell in the country of their grief, not my own, but the space that my dearest and best have been inhabiting.
Lent 2019 has seemed to be a slow heavy walk through sadness, hopelessness, and grief. Too many close to me were slogging down that dark trail into a darker valley and I was their companion.
I was caught unaware when God gave me a HARD STOP, and forced me to look at my losses, grief that has been grieved well, but then stored in the deepest part of my heart.
It was time to scrape the scab off, expose the ugly to the life giving, healing light of God’s love.
It was time to allow God to pour over my heart His love and mercy and fill it with His peace
And it hurt. The scab was deep, rooted in avoidance, denial, and too much pain, but it was necessary.
Kate Bowler wrote in her blog that, ‘To observe Lent is to prepare for loss. We will hear in Scripture the story of a man, once active and strong enough to stride the length of the Holy Land, suddenly deprived of his freedom and friends and now rejected and despised, esteemed not. We embark on a walk for this holy season that will end on Golgotha, where an innocent man in the midst of his agony will cry because he believes his Father has forgotten him.”
We prepare for the loss, we know that Sunday is coming! And we know the end of the story.
So I continue towards Jerusalem, reminding myself not to forget to remember.
There are many walking beside me, some limping along, some struggling to keep up, some striding in great confidence, but we all need help carrying our burdens.
I am walking hesitantly with Jesus holding my heart tenderly as he applies the healing balm of his grace, but I am walking.
As we approached Jerusalem the crowd stood at the gate and cried in tear-choked voice: “ We are lost in his death.” Upon the hill the angels sang:” We are found in his rising!” Ann Weems “Lost and Found”
Walking towards Jerusalem, my baggage adjusted, my load lightened, facing the rising Son!