Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and it marked the beginning of the 40 days of Lent, the season of prayer, fasting, and repentence that prepares us for the Easter celebration. While Lent is not strictly a catholic practice, I had never participated in it until I was confirmed catholic 5 years ago....and it's become one of my favorite times of the year, though not because it's incredibly joyful and easy. It can actually be quite painful.
But sometimes don't we need a little of that? Something to make us a little uncomfortable, something to pull us out of our complacency, give us the push and the decisiveness we need to set aside habits that are harmful or have become time-wasters, a season to help us focus our attention on the most important sacrifice of all.
It's not pleasant or easy to focus on our sin or even on how extensively Christ suffered on our behalf, but we must. It's hard to admit our need for a savior...and not just at a moment of conversion but each day. And we must. We can not focus only on the joyous and redeeming aspects of God's love or even truly experience them without doing the painful work of honestly looking at ourselves and recognizing where we have fallen.
Sometimes we reject love because it can make us uncomfortable. Christ loved bigger than we ever can or ever will....and no one has or ever will love us as much as our Lord and Savior. He paid the ultimate price for our sin on the cross, in ultimate humility, all out of LOVE. This is the season to reflect on that and to respond to what the Holy Spirit stirs in us as we do.
I frequently get the urge to purge the house of all unnecessary items and the things that clutter up our home. When the piles of clutter accumulate and I begin stuffing things in random places, I have trouble seeing all that we have, I develop a skewed perspective of what we need, things that require my action can get lost in the shuffle, and I don't use our space or our things as they are intended. The same goes for our soul.
When we don't do the work of addressing the "clutter" that has accumulated (the subtle [or blatant] sin, habits that aren't beneficial, and our spiritual laziness), we lose focus. The spiritual clutter distracts us from the things that are most important and our priorities are misplaced. We have trouble listening. It's hard find the silence needed to heard God's voice when so many other things are vying for our attention.
So it's time to purge the heart...to get rid of the clutter that weighs down our soul and distracts us from the work at hand. It's time to make room for grace and let God do the work of restoring right order to our souls.
We shouldn't need a season of Lent to do this but often we get distracted with the busyness of life. So, I'm ready. I don't want to miss this season.