Your Imperfect Lent
We are now about halfway through Lent. The 40-day journey’s novelty has certainly worn off for most of us and much of what is left is the back half of the path. You can almost taste the joy of Easter at this point.
There is a personal pessimism that fuels much of my struggle with Lent. I like to imagine that one day, I can be perfect. Don’t worry, I know it is not true. If I really taught that, you should never come to my church. But it is my internal voice that says “ you will never really be perfect in (fill in the blank)” that drives me away from the Lenten journey. It’s me coming face to face with my own imperfect (and sometimes embarrassing) efforts. And there may very well be an inescapable connection to procrastination and the internal pessimism that tells us to give up now, lest we taste failure in a few days.
When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, however, he did not have instant perfection in mind. Instead, Paul believed in a journey that, over time, led to a Christian becoming more like Christ. He says this in Romans 5:21, “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The key phrase there is “leading to.” Paul did not teach instant sanctification. Paul taught a grace of God that worked in a life over time, “leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I’m not expected to take the pessimistic voice seriously. If I do, it fuels procrastination and often leads to my frustration of not being perfect, which leads to not actually doing anything of consequence. Instead, Paul is calling the church in Rome (and you and I today) to a faith that acts, regardless of what we might think about the eventual outcome. Because the results belong to God.
So take care as we begin the back half of Lent. Take the simple steps, be at peace with your humble efforts and trust that Our God has your (good) outcome in His loving hands.