Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tear your hearts and not your clothes.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:14-19

The point of the wilderness, for Jesus, was to experience the real presence of God with him, and power of God at work in him. The Lenten practice of denying usual comforts is a means of deepening our sense of union with Jesus, and reorienting our life around the things of God. We give up that which distracts and entangles because we want to experience some real joy and freedom in Christ. Lent is not about what we do for Christ. It is about plumbing the depths of what he has done for us.  -Journey to the Cross: Readings & Devotions for Lent 

So this morning, after I dropped Jin Cheng and Chuyi off at school, I rode my pretty beat-up old bicycle straight up Sentential Peak. Without stopping. Which isn’t that big of a deal; lots of people do it every day. But I am darn sure I couldn’t do it a week ago. And three weeks ago, I confess I quit half way up. And last summer, just after I rode across Spain with Nicole for eight days up and down and up and down mountains, I still dismounted and walked for a bit of it. So the big deal with me is that change and growth happens, even if we don’t particularly notice it. Suddenly it is there.

And sometimes after I read psalms declaring that the LORD satisfies all of the desires of all living things, it is hard to not internally roll my eyes and mutter, “Yeah, right.” But wrapped up in these declarations is the idea of seasons, seasons that are part of the very heartbeat of life, so that man may understand. And the thing about due season is that it includes the blistering heat of summer, and dry crinkled dead leaves of autumn and the piled up heaps of snow and frigid wind chill of winter, and then there is spring.

And in spring, those tiny sparks of bright green growth peek their little faces through the thick mud and pause. Pause big time. And every day I can squint at their tininess and man, things feel exactly the same, the same old same old. But all of a sudden, a stem burst up, with two curled leaves and then they unfurl and a pink bud is unveiled, and so it goes.

In due season. And today I rode all the way out and up and down and back again, only pausing once to blow my nose at the Congress and Grande red light. And a pop into Ben’s Bells for a sticker to remind me in one more modality of the Lord’s kindness in all His works.

And His kindness leads to repentance. And yesterday at the Ash Wednesday service, as I and the other parishioners read aloud from a handout, confessing our corporate sins, I was guilty of each and every one of them. I couldn’t wiggle out of even one. We are a broken people. And the LORD raises up all who are bowed down.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Teach us, Lord, to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.