I love the story from Luke. Probably because I love road trips. And probably because I can identify with leaving someone behind. I’ve had an incident of accidentally leaving a child behind. The worst one was when I left my wife behind…. at church…. on Mother’s Day. I’ll never live that one down. On our most recent vacation I was counting heads as everyone piled back into the van. We had a wonderful tour guide for the day and, when she realized I was counting her, she exclaimed, “I’m part of the family now, too!”
Lent is a road trip of sorts. A journey with Christ. There is some preparation and planning, but hopefully much of this is a journey into new territory. I always want a map and Jesus just wants to go for a walk. Sometimes I beat myself up during Lent. I think I’m not worthy for the journey. Or I don’t have the qualifications. Thankfully, the journey does not depend on my worthiness, but on God’s unfailing love. If I’m still breathing, Jesus is interested in me. I tend to hurry ahead and want Jesus to catch up. Jesus just wants to walk with me. Lent can be a deepening of our relationship with Christ. When we come to a fork in the road, we just have to trust Him to take our hand and lead us down the right path. Lent is an opportunity to see Jesus more clearly, to hear his call to servanthood. It can be an awakening of our soul. Renewed purpose and meaning for our life. Lent can be exciting and joyful. A journey where some things are familiar. Like looking at an old picture that brings back a fond memory. Or a journey where some things are brand new. Like rounding a corner to the sight of distant, snow capped mountains.
But Lent can be costly, too. There is a point in the journey to Jerusalem where the scenery begins to change. Up to now the trip has been great: Beautiful scenery, excited crowds, healings, teaching, preaching, miracles, the feeding of thousands. And now Jerusalem is just over the next hill. Now the end is in sight. The excitement is building.
And this is the point in the journey where Jesus turns and says, “I know it has been great up to now, but soon there will be betrayal, arrest, spitting, condemnation, flogging, crucifixion and death.” I imagine that, given those options, most (all?) of us would slow down and say, well, how about we just camp here or turn around or maybe choose another route? Can’t we find a place where there is no flogging? I imagine Jesus smiling and saying, come follow me. Trust me. The journey is not easy, but the rewards are great.
How is your Lenten season going? Where are you on this journey with Christ? My prayer today is for those of us who feel frustrated with the journey or feel stagnant or who are afraid of the cost. Afraid of the risk of that step into the unknown. That we would simply open ourselves up to trust and follow, and to a deeper relationship with Jesus.
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