Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.
And when the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. For the next forty days, Christians are called to prayer, meditation and fasting in preparation of Easter. But why?
Joel 2:12-14 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart and not your garments
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing.
Even now. Now. How often have we heard that word? It’s a word that is urgent and doesn’t allow for delay. I know as a child, that if I hesitated to obey my parents when told to do something, the next word was usually, “Now!” And I knew, by the tone of the word, I’d better move!
But God isn’t saying to us, “Do it now or else.” He’s telling us that if we will return to him now, He is waiting, eagerly, to pour his grace on us.
It’s important to know this as we begin this season of Lent. If God is so eager to bless us, why do we need Lent?
Because, while it might be now that God is ready and waiting, it might not be now for us. In our lives, so filled with the daily struggles and pressures, we need the structure of seasons like Lent to get our attention.
I’m reminded of something my mother did for my brothers and me when we were children. We had chores that we were expected to do each day. But it’s the same for children as adults. Whether it’s chores at home, school or work, we can become complacent through the mundaneness of the tasks. To get our attention when our minds would wander, my mother would occasionally leave a small gift on our bed for us. It wasn’t every anything expensive…but it was always a surprise. I remember one time finding a kite on my bed. My brothers each received one as well. I can still picture all four of us with those kites, running into each other, laughing as they became as tangled up as we were.
Forty days, set aside to help us slow down, simplify our lives and clear our minds of the things that keep us from connecting with God. Through prayer, meditation and fasting, we refocus our attention, giving God the opportunity to do what He so wants to do: be a real presence in our daily lives.
Now is your time…what will you do with it?
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart…”