THE LENTEN JOURNEY BEGINS. The message is simple enough. “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Good News (Mark 1:14-15).”
The time is fulfilled. God did a lot of preparing for this moment. A few thousand years’ worth of work behind the scenes. And now, during your life time, all the experiences, all the people you’ve encountered, all the knowledge gained. The random thoughts too. Everything is set and ready to go. God’s ready to wake you up, shake you out of your comfort zone, and invite you into His Life.
The Kingdom of God is at hand. God cares about you so deeply that He decided to come to you personally, to get down to your level. Because you can’t to reach him. He enters your life as Jesus right at this very moment. Shares stories with you. Shows you the Way to live. Heals your soul and shows you how to heal others’ souls. He embodies the Message he shares with you. And encourages you to embody that Message to share with others. As he gets into your life and mixes it up, he’s actually preparing you. Preparing you for those moments when you enter into the fires of life, when life itself gets a little dicey.
Repent. So God’s message finally sinks in. And you begin to change. But when life’s difficulties show up, when the heat is on, that’s when God’s words and past actions in your life get baked into you wholeheartedly. There comes that moment when you realize how you have really messed up in a situation, or when you realize you’ve deeply hurt or been deeply hurt by someone, or…. So you stop, reflect, accept, and ask forgiveness, ask for grace. Despite the seemingly hellish temperatures, you stay in the uncomfortableness of the moment, in the heat of that moment, because you know God is there. God is listening. And God says to you to place those burdens at the foot of His Cross. Your screw ups. Others’ times when they’ve harmed you. Your anxieties, hurts, pains. Place them at the foot of His cross. Set them down before him. And as you kneel at that Cross, you notice that a drop of His precious blood, a drop of God’s blood, falls upon your head. And in that moment you are transformed. You are redeemed.
Believe in the Good News. The true gift of Easter cannot be realized or accepted without the time of repentance, without that moment where we kneel before God’s cross, acknowledge our sin and ready ourselves for the consequences. Only, the consequences do not involve staying the oven forever and being cooked to a crisp; the ultimate consequence is that God, through Jesus, pulls you out of that oven at just the right time and offers you forgiveness and grace and mercy. The door (oven door) is opened. God invites you to start a new life as a new person. And you celebrate and share your story and God’s story with others – how God was there during the darkest of times, during the most heated of times – and saved us. Saved you.
The time is now. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. And believe in the Good News!