Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian penitential season of Lent. In honor of which, I'll re-post my traditional Lenten meditation. . .
During Lent, I am struck again and again with the conviction that the Christian life is a lot more serious than I generally treat it as being. It is so easy to play at Christianity – to talk the jargon, do the theology, know the Scriptures, even – to get real good at the outward appearances, but miss the inner transformation, the knowledge of God.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us” (from The Weight of Glory, by CS Lewis)
Alas; and I am the most half-hearted of all. I cannot escape the conviction that God is in deadly earnest about a way of life that I’m content to dabble in at my leisure. But –
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” (from The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
I just want to drop the pretenses. I know who I am before God; I’m certainly not fooling God.
“Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)
O Lord, have mercy. I may fool myself, but I don’t fool you. You “discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12); “you know my inmost being” (ref. Psalm 139:13-16).
Alas, alas. "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5). Not a pretty picture, is it? And yet you won’t let go of me; you won’t leave me to my own devices, no matter how half-hearted I am. O Lord, I only want to know you. And yet I find that the biggest obstacle to my knowing you is. . . myself. I ought to pray, but I am irresolute. Too often, I go through the motions, “warmed from without, but not aflame within” (Imitation of Christ 3:2).
And yet, O Lord, you call me on, for reasons I can’t discern, except that your love and mercy are unfathomable. . .