As this season of Lent is drawing to a close, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The past six weeks have, at times, both dragged on and raced forward.
This week before Easter Sunday (also known as Passion or Holy Week), I find myself inching closer and closer to breaking my Lenten fasts and indulging in some pastel egg-shaped candy in the days to come. As this season draws to a close, my eyes are on the celebration of new life: or, in other words, getting back to my everyday life and habits. The weeks of suffering in fasting and mourning are ending, and I’m ready for things to be normal again.
I was reflecting on this today as I found myself in the car driving through the North Bay today. Taking from Pastor Bobby’s blog post a while back about being in a posture of listening, I decided to turn off my usual driving music and sit silently in my thoughts for a while, looking back on this season of fasting and Lent.
And here are some of my honest reflections:
– I’m still not great at fasting. My self-discipline really needs some work.
– I’m really glad Lent’s coming to an end.
– The church Easter choir on Sunday is going to be awesome!!!
– I’m not sure I’m any different now than I was at the start of Lent.
In the quiet of the car I had to face a hard realization… that I want my “suffering” to be in a neat little package and to come with some awesome outcomes that make the hard parts worth it. I want my sacrifices and struggling (even something as little as giving up coffee) to mean something. I want something to show for it. I want to give myself a pat on the back and endless celebratory cups of coffee to commemorate that I’ve done it. Despite everything, I still just want and focus on the benefits of new life without being fully present in the suffering. More than I care to admit, I’m ready to live back in my normal reality where I have freedom and new life. Suffering and fasting is just too hard.
Especially in this last week of Lent where Jesus lived his final week, it’s tempting to get ready for the Sunday celebration instead of staying present with the richness of His suffering and passion, which comes to a head this week. The depth of the suffering and passion paves the way for the depth and meaning of crucifixion and subsequent new life. Those two aspects – the crucifixion and the resurrection – simply cannot be unlinked.
Suffering is simply that– suffering. It’s hard! We people are pain adverse. A big part of entering into suffering is holding myself there in that hard place; that is half the battle for me. We have the freedom to choose out of it, and ironically the same freedom that Jesus paid for is the same freedom and willpower we exercise when we choose into crucifixion alongside Him today. We have the choice. He’s inviting us into the depth of His faithfulness and power that remain through both the suffering and the rising. Do we have the courage to say yes and to engage more deeply this week, despite any hard realizations we may have about our weakness?