Last week was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I was in Florida and John was in Thailand when he wrote this in an email:
Can I let you in on a secret? I’m so much more a Christmas guy than an Easter person; I know it sounds sacrilegious, but I love THAT part of the story, cuz of the hope and the joy (and the presents)… And the absence of all that ‘sin talk’ and the beatings, trials abandonments and crosses.
There’s a little scene where the two unlikely heroes of the Lord of the Rings, Sam and Frodo, are hiding and near death, and Sam says, “Do you think think they’ll ever tell our adventure, Mr. Frodo?… ‘Maybe Sam, but this is the part where the children will say, skip this part, Dad, I don’t like this chapter.‘” I know how Frodo feels, on Ash Wednesday.
My response? Me too, me too, me too!
Lent is the part of the story that is ugly and messy and requires humility and self-examination and I’d really rather avoid both thank you very much.
I like to think I’m a “pretty good” person.
I have “acceptable sins” that I unconsciously sort of think God can overlook instead of actually having to die for. Come to think of it, I prefer “occasional weaknesses” to “sin”.
The problem is that sin is sin is sin and any sin separates us from God.
When I get sucked into thinking there’s anything “acceptable” about my sin I’m living out of a works mentality instead of acknowledging my complete dependence on God’s grace.
I pray, “Open my eyes to my blind spots.” but it’s a half-hearted prayer if I’m honest.
I’d much rather close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and loudly sing “LALALALA” to drown out the truth.
But lately I can’t escape it.
I keep being brought smack up against my true sinfulness. I’m in situations where I’m horrified with my impatience, and critical spirit and selfishness, and pride and intolerance…
I think, “Holy buckets, I really DO need a savior!”
“Duh”, you say.
But honey, “the heart is deceitful above all things.” and all of us (yes, even you) are prone to rationalizing.
The reason Lent is so long is that the path to the truth of oneself is long and snagged with thorns – Edna Hong
I don’t like Lent because it’s all about sin that when exposed is like a terrible boil and I want to avert my eyes and pretend such ugliness doesn’t exist, at least not in me.
The good news is, that where sin abounds, grace abounds more. That’s the Easter part I’d like to skip to.
But I can’t live Easter until I truly experience Lent.