These reflections will replace my Saturday Morning cartoons until Lent is over.
The service was historical and worshipful. My pastor did an excellent job of explaining the meaning behind this Lenten practice as a time of confession before the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. During worship I remember singing a song that had to do the Lord calling us His beloved.
And I raised my hands high thinking that if I raised them high enough I might actually feel like His beloved.
I raised them in faith knowing that I am His.
I raised arms wide hoping to be received as His beloved and desiring to be loved.
But the knowing wasn't enough and I couldn't feel through that clamshell heart of mine!
A clamshell heart is a heart in self-protection mode. Inside it holds tight to offenses, insecurities and fears. Outside it repels love, compliments, peace and truth.
I remember praying for peace this week. And it came for the moment.
I remember the compliments and those voices in my head that responded with, "whatever."
I remember the insecurities. I could almost see them, that is how real they were.
I remember the love . . . that I rejected.
I remember the offenses that I made up in my head. They marched in so easily but didn't depart without a war.
And I remember the Truth that I read: "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that he steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." Luke 9:51
Jesus set out toward Jerusalem, toward death.
Towards a city that would someday be destroyed.
Towards the city where He would face His own death.
And that is what Lent is: setting our face in a new direction. A direction that leads to death of all that gets in the way of intimacy with Christ.
I wish I could say, "I give up fear. Insecurity. Offenses." And really have it be that easy.
But it isn't that easy.
So I set my face toward my Jerusalem, my death. Death of fear (again), death of offenses (again) and death of insecurity (again).
This week I am reminded of the bondage sin has on me. I am reminded of my weakness in self-protection. I am reminded that those things that are held so tightly in my clamshell heart lead to emptiness, lead to death of love received and death to the ability to give love fully.
And the emptiness within needs to die so life and joy and peace and love can abide.
As I look inward and see darkness I also look upward and see light. I set my face on that Light, Jesus, who alone has the power to break the bondage of fear, insecurity, and offenses.
Steadfastly, I too fix my gaze in one direction A direction that leads to my own death to self, but ultimately leads to a life of joy, fully rejoicing in His death and resurrection with a heart prepared to receive life raised from the dead.
In this Lenten season my heart needs softening, cleansing, and the peace of Christ. Doesn't yours too? Let us all set our sights on death, and give up those things that create those dead places within, by setting our faces toward the one who gave His life so we might live.