Archive for March, 2013

March 1, 2013

A Wilderness of Grace (March)

We are currently in the season of Lent, the forty days (minus the Sundays) leading up to Easter.  Traditionally, it is a time that Christians consider if they are living with any sin or idol and then repenting from them.  It is a time when we remind ourselves that we are sinful mortal creatures desperately in need of a sinless immortal God to save us and guide us through life (Romans 3:23ff).

“But why,” one might say, “should we practice Lent at all?”  First, it is because we are such forgetful creatures, we often forget how desperately we truly need God in our lives.  We so easily run after idols to fulfill our needs and then grow so comfortable of them in our lives that we can no longer see them.  Lent is a wakeup call for us to turn our longings from idols and back to God.

More significantly, though, we practice Lent because we want to follow the Lord Jesus Christ as his disciples.  Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and so we as disciples follow him (Matthew 4).  In the wilderness, Jesus encounters the most pernicious of sins that humanity faces and overcomes them.  We too are to face our sins and by the Spirit’s power overcome them.

Many understand (or rather misunderstand) Lent as a time of simply meditating upon our sin and our sinfulness, of living in guilt, of walking in regret and remorse.  Perhaps this is what Lent would look like for a person bereft of hope, but we Christians are a people teeming with hope!  And even in the wilderness, perhaps especially in the wilderness, we find God’s hope alive and active!

Remember when God’s people wandered the wilderness 40 years.  They wandered a wilderness where water was scarce and food was scarcer.  They couldn’t go to a Kroger for food or a Kohl’s for clothes.  They were stuck in the middle of a desert.  We read,

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.  Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.  Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).

Even in the middle of the desert, the people found God, full of grace.  Led by the Spirit, fed by manna, clothed and sustained by the power of God.  It was in the wilderness where the people truly discovered the depth of God’s grace toward them.  Lent can be that time for us.  In the midst of seeing the depth of our sin, we too can find that God’s grace goes even deeper.  Though our sins are stacked high, God’s grace soars even higher.  In Lent, we rediscover our sinfulness, but may we also rediscover God’s graciousness.

Pastor Rich