“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart”
Lent is a season of preparation that invites you to grow closer to God. Each season of your life invites you to change how you live. It can be moving from warm coats and boots to short sleeves and sandals. The change can also be more personal as you welcome a baby, send a child off to school, begin a new job, learn to live with a new diagnosis or without someone you love. It takes time to move through the seasons of your life and the journey changes you.
Lent is the journey you take with Jesus to the cross. It is a time to turn your life off autopilot and get real with yourself and God. It is an invitation to self examination: to be quiet, reflect, and get reacquainted with your true self. It is a time when you realize your brokenness and your longing for God.
One of the great messages that runs throughout scripture is God’s promise - I will be your God and you will be my people (Ex 6:7, Lev 26:12, Jer 31:33, 2Cor 6:16). God binds his heart with yours. He loves you. The message is repeated over and over because it is so hard to get it. There is a divide between us and God marked by sin. As much as you try, you are not able to bridge the gap on your own.
At the beginning of Jesus's ministry he announced, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” (Mk 1:15) Something new was happening. The hoped-for kingdom envisioned by the prophets is now near. Jesus is going to bridge the gap. He is going to come to us. His life, death, and resurrection change everything. All we need to do is repent and believe.
What does it mean to repent? To repent is to “come to your senses”.* Dallas Willard teaches that to repent is to “rethink your thinking”. He says repentance “is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus have the option…of taking our life into his life.” Lent is forty days to remember who you are and to whom you belong. This changes us and reshapes our understanding of what matters most.
“Even now,” says, the Lord, “return to me with all your heart.” I will be your God and you will be my people.
* This phrase is from Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words.