In the midst of our crisis, we may have forgotten we are in the season of Lent. It is our time of fasting and meditation, the 40 days leading up to Holy Week in which we imitate in some small way the fasting of Jesus in the wilderness.
We find ourselves in an interesting sort of wilderness this Lent. We are certainly isolated. Matthew tells us Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” We certainly weren’t led to this quarantine in that way—it wasn’t a choice, really. But here we are, in this wilderness not of our choosing, and I think the Spirit is leading. If we stop and listen as Jesus did, where might he take us?
The editors of my Lent devotional write this: “To observe Lent is to strike at the root of…complacency. Lent (literally ‘springtime’) is a time of preparation, a time to return to the desert where Jesus spent forty trying days readying for his ministry. He allowed himself to be tested, and if we are serious about following him, we will do the same” (Bread and Wine, Introduction).
Where are you being tested right now? Are you even aware of this testing and tempting? Have you stopped to think about how the enemy might be trying to get at you in this wilderness? And how are you responding to the test? Are you looking at the circumstances, at yourself? Whose voice are you listening to? Are you responding from your fear and need, or from the promises of God?
I love what the editors say. “[W]e ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to is as ‘this joyful season.’”
An opportunity, not a requirement. What opportunities are before you, before us as a church? How can we emerge from this time repentant and empowered?
Here we are in our enforced wilderness, in the time of Lent, in the time of spring. The enemy thinks he can use this time to paralyze us. But we often hear God the most clearly in our times of need. Out of death comes new life, and out of darkness comes light. Lean into your emptiness. Fill up on his promises. Where do you need to repent, and where do you need new life?
Resurrection is coming.