Reflections on Lent from this month’s Ministry Area Magazine.
Life today usually necessitates plenty of road trips. Whether for work, for leisure or to see our extended family, we often find ourselves spending lots of time on the road from place to place.
This Christmas just gone, over the course of a week or so, as a family we travelled from Cardiff to Aberystwyth to my parents’ house, then across to the Wirral to see my wife Amy’s family, then up to North Yorkshire to my grandparents, before making the long journey back again to South Wales!
The Christian life is often characterised as a journey. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way but, if we make the best use of the tools at our disposal, we are able to reach our destination, growing in our relationship with God and in wisdom and maturity.
Reminded of Jesus’ own journey in the wilderness, as the season of Lent draws near, I wonder how looking at our own lives as a journey might help us to make the most of this season? How could we take stock of where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going, in order to grow as disciples of Jesus?
Before we can learn any more about ourselves, we first need to acknowledge where we are. Even with a map, a journey cannot go very well unless we know our current location. That’s why when we’re visiting somewhere those big stickers which say ‘you are here’ are such a godsend!
I wonder, if you’re honest with yourself, where you’d say you are in your life? How are you feeling?Happy, joyful, excited, tired, sad, mourning or something else? And what about your spiritual life? Do you feel close to God, or distant? Exhilarated or drained?
Next, we need to consider where we’ve been previously. What past experiences have made you who you are? Is there anything you’ve forgotten, any gems from your previous faith experience which could bring new life to your relationship with God in the present? And are there any negative experiences that you’re still carrying around the baggage from? Moving on in the journey may mean that we need to lighten our load in order to move on to somewhere new.
And finally, we should consider where we’re going. For the Christian, the ultimate destination is the abundant ‘life in all its fullness’ that Jesus describes in John’s gospel— but what might the next step be to draw nearer to that reality? What will help you to grow in your relationship with God, and your understanding of his love? What qualities would help you to become more like Jesus, and love and serve others better?
Lent is a chance to stop and think about where we are, and pay attention to the condition of our heart and soul. A chance to take stock of what has gone before, and let go of excess baggage. And a chance to make sure that we are heading in the right direction.
Each year, we have the opportunity at Lent to make a pitstop on our life journey — to regroup, refuel and refocus ourselves for what comes next.
How will you make the most of the opportunity this year?