Lent invites us to join Christ on the way of the Cross. It’s an intentional season of reflection and meditation. Even more, we’re challenged to arrange our lives in such a way as to be daily frustrated. Let me explain.
We can each most easily default to comfort and convenience, we’re often unaware of how we live to feel good about ourselves, to gain affirmation, to exert influence, to secure our own pleasure or just to satisfy our immediate needs. Lent invites us to intentionally frustrate ourselves. This is an invitation to less. A season of deprivation which actually makes us more aware of the depth of our dependence on any number of things. It speaks uncomfortably to our control, our comforts and our securities, and much more…….
Lent is never just an inconvenient seasonal behaviour modification program. It’s not about going off chocolate or caffeine or alcohol. It’s about frustrating what Thomas Merton calls our “false self,” our illusory self, the part of us addicted to living the lie, a life of hiding. As Merton writes, “All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honour, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real.”
In this sense, Lent’s frustrating reality is an invitation to, once and for all, taste reality, our truest self, gifted to us by God as a pure act of grace.
Beneath our illusory self is our real identity, who we were made to be. It is our true self, secure, beloved, held in the Father’s embrace. Lent strips us of everything that is not us. So Lent need not be a chore. It is an opportunity for profound grace by the God who longs to love us at our core, not in our false projected self which desire influence and swagger, but in our truest, most humble and trusting self, easily lost but now found in the wilderness gift of Lent.
Lent is God’s repeated invitation for us to surrender to Him. It’s a beckoning for us to surrender to the God who wants to invade our hearts with disruptive love, who wants to stifle your exhausting attempts to manufacture love with unfathomable grace. Lent affords us this unique opportunity, by God’s grace.
So through this unique lenten journey, might you might find yourself hidden in Christ, and revealed ultimately in the Easter reality of God’s resurrection life, stripped of pretension and falsehood, and renewed again as a dependent and glad child of God. This is my prayer for me,….and for you.