02-24-2020: Week of Ash Wednesday

I apologize for the tardiness of this note. I’m at home and a little under the weather, so I’ll do my best to give you something worth starting your week.

I was telling Jen that even though there’s not a whole lot I can do about the setbacks that come from being sick, I still have this innate sense of guilt that rides my conscience when it happens. The feeling of there already being so much I feel I can’t see through to the finish line, if I slow down now, the progress I have made will be for nothing as everything becomes irreparably disjointed.

I’m sure many of you feel the same way. You feel as though one small change of plans is all it takes to send the world spinning into chaos. In such moments, I experience a course of self-questioning, one from which I continue to learn and relearn. Essentially, as I may be feeling a sense of guilt, am I really in charge of anything? Yes, steady faithfulness of the Lord’s servants matters for His Church, but does everything come undone when I come undone?

It’s pretty pompous to think things might.

And then strangely, I find myself down for the count and facing an involuntary recalibration. The guilt is suddenly shown to be illusionary. When the illusion fades away, I discover a few things. First, I’m still here. Second, so is God. Third, I’m not Him. Fourth, His world is still spinning, and with the pace I’ve been keeping, I’ve missed some grand opportunities for truly living. Fifth, my pompous Sin-nature has carried me very close to the edge of thinking I can somehow fill God’s divine shoes—as though I can do all things and bring about every targeted outcome in every effort I set my head and hands to.

I’m sort of in that recalibrating spot right now. I’m sick. Even typing this eNews makes me a bit nauseated. I suppose one could argue the fact that since I’m so stubbornly typing it anyway instead of laying on the couch doing nothing is another betrayal of the Sin-nature’s tenacity. Although, give me some room on this one. I’m observing it through the lens of faith. I don’t feel an obligation to share this with you, but rather I sort of want to. Perhaps the Lord thinks you need this recalibration before Lent kicks into full gear just as much as I do.

In one sense, I say this because if you are at all familiar with how Lent unfolds around here at Our Savior in Hartland, then you know we take it pretty seriously. It’s all-immersing. It’s devotionally intense. It contemplates the depths of our sorrowful woe, and yet it keeps one’s eyes fixed on Christ’s deepest efforts to win a Sin-sick humanity back to God. It reminds us in every way that we cannot save ourselves, that we are completely dependent upon God and His graciously reaching to us in our despair—His carrying us in all things by the sacrifice of His Son. From a pastor’s perspective, if I continue to make my way into this, the heftiest of seasons, thinking I have to hold it all together for everyone until Easter, I’m done for. Christ will rise at Easter and I’ll crawl into His tomb exhausted.

Unfortunately, that’s too often been the case for me.

This particular moment on the timeline is teaching me to let Lent carry me more so than I’ve allowed it in the past. It’s nudging me to be more than someone charged with bringing the Gospel, but also to be one who lets that same message of the One who went into the steep and collected darknesses of each and everything I could never come close to doing right or well in comparison to God’s Law be my stay. It’s winking at me and urging me to listen for its cadence to tap in my heart as I exist in a world that seems so overwhelmed by Sin, Death, and the devil. It’s steering me toward remembering that Jesus submitted Himself to these things, allowing Himself to be overwhelmed in my place, and yet He proved His divine invincibility in the coming celebration of Easter.

And so I’m sharing this with you. Hold onto Him. Seek faithfulness to Him rather than chasing after success for your efforts as you might define them.

And then if you must, go and lay on the couch and catch your breath. You can pick up tomorrow where you left off today.