Friday, March 2, 2012

Held in Love - VMS article in the Shelby Star

This is my third February in Shelby, and frankly, the turning of the seasons here has me a bit confused. I don’t recall the season of winter happening at all this year, yet it looks like Spring has sprung already. The daffodils are in full bloom at the churchyard!

This brings to my mind the greatness of Almighty God, by whose hand creation came into being, and who continues to care for and guide it. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, the voice of God reminds us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55: 8-9)

Thankfully, we aren’t expected to comprehend God or God’s plan. We are called to trust that God is faithful, kind, and full of compassion, and that the promises of God given to us in Scripture are true. We are called to trust that it is from Love we were created, by Love we were redeemed, and in Love we are sustained. The ebb and flow of the ocean tides, the annual cycle of seasons, the daily reality of night following day which follows night, and the internal rhythms of our breathing, our heartbeats, our sleep and wakefulness – all held in the loving hands of our Creator who is beyond our comprehension and control.

Resting in the Love that exceeds our comprehension and control is the perfect posture for practicing a holy Lent. Remembering that the word “Lent” means “spring,” and that it refers to a time when new life is being formed in us, we have a wonderful opportunity to let go and trust God.

When Jesus, our Redeemer, was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by that Spirit into the wilderness, he showed us how to do this; how to let go and let God form new life in us so that we can be prepared to respond faithfully to God’s call on our lives. Choosing to enter our interior “wilderness,” translated from the Greek as “desert” or “uncultivated place” as Jesus did, provides us opportunity to let go and let God cultivate in us the faithfulness we need to live and serve in a world full of temptations.

Lent is not a time for us to wallow in the misery of our wretchedness as hopeless sinners, and we don’t fast in order to atone for sin. We fast to allow ourselves to experience emptiness, even though emptiness scares us. The nothingness of it feels kind of like death. Remembering, however, that we are a resurrection people, we have no fear of death, not even the little ones, like the death of a habit, or the death of an idea we hold about God, or ourselves, or our neighbors, because we rest safely and securely in the hands of Love who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us.

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