Joy through Pain
Dan and I will often go into our little town of Woodland to get a cup of coffee at the Starbucks located inside the Safeway store. We go to this Starbucks because there is a young woman that works there that we have gotten to know and she is quite delightful. A couple of weeks ago we stopped by and she asks the question, "Pastor Dan, what is Lent?". You would think that I would have a good grasp on what Lent is growing up in the Lutheran church. But, sad to say, I don't think that I was a particularly smart child as I don't have any recollections and have had to figure this out later in life. So as we are in the season of Lent and because I have been thinking about it I thought that I would share some thoughts with you. Lent, according to the church calendar, is the forty days before Easter not including the Sundays. This is where you will hear someone say that they are giving up this or that for Lent (jokingly, I have told Dan that I will give up squid for Lent). But seriously, as I think about the time of preparation for Easter, which is where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I am reminded this is where Jesus served the disciples at the Last Supper. He washed their feet telling Peter that this was necessary to be a part of Him. As I reflect upon my own black heart and actions there is the realization that I was/am doomed if Jesus has not come to me, served me in His sacrifice. As each day in the season of Lent goes by there is ample opportunities for me to recognize my emptiness, dependence and need for a Savior, THE Savior. So with each sacrifice (giving up) or suffering that comes I really want to be able to turn and offer it to the Lord so that His will is done in me. This is easier said than done but hardships and heartaches have a purpose in the kingdom of God. Lent is the emptying of myself so that Christ can come and dwell and shine His light into the darkness of my heart. I definitely need Him, am desperate for Him. Because without Him there will only be this void of darkness and me having to dwell with me. Easter is coming and with it the joy of remembering what was accomplished. Jesus has saved me from me.