This week begins the liturgical season of Lent. It is a contemplative time of waiting for Easter, the glorious Sunday of Jesus’ resurrection. Although our group does not observe strict Lenten practices, there are benefits to preparing our minds and hearts toward God at this time. It can be a time of repenting, reorienting and refocusing ourselves toward the one we call the Savior. These remaining cold, barren days of the year may help us to renew ourselves so we may rejoice fully in the beauty of Easter.
In this spring renewal, as the natural world is full of death and dormancy, we can refocus on our own death to self and give ourselves over to the God who is able and willing to re-enliven us. Fallen brittle branches and leaves long shed in various stages of decomposition gaze back at their source, knowing new buds are straining through newly formed shoots. They are waiting to be renewed. Cold, weary hearts search for their source of love and life.
In a dormant time of year, when I no longer feel productive, I am more willing to approach God and ask him to take me back. I need him to refocus me. I feel the need at this time of year to be centered in him. Just as nature is revitalized in slumber and annual Sabbaths, so I can use this time to reorient myself to God’s voice.
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your
hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
God moves in closer when we make the smallest gesture. What an astounding truth! My prayer life may be dry and sporadic, but God will meet me there every time. My Bible reading may be hurried and cursory, but God leans in next to me until I learn to do better.
I cannot cleanse myself like James urges in the verse above, but I remember my baptism as the day of Christ’s death and resurrection. He is the one who purifies me, helping me to change into something new. This is where the grace of God constantly draws near to us. Just as the Father in the parable ran in full expectation of the son’s return (Luke 15:11-32), so God descends, whispering the Spirit’s kindnesses and reassurances. It is not enough for me to meet God like this one time. I must return. Again and again. It is part of my repentance and reorienting myself in Christ. I repeat it year after year, or hour by hour. God never wearies of leaning down to meet me.
Soren Kierkegaard says, “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Here he is reminiscent of James, warning us of being “double-minded.” For me, being “double-minded” might be an improvement. I tend to be “multi-minded,” fractured, which is probably why I can’t sleep at night. Purity of heart, single-mindedness, is to seek out and crave God.
As I approach the coming Easter, can I begin by drawing near to God, and waiting for him to bless me with a single-mindedness? He will deliver the renewal of the world and the joy of all of our resurrections.