I’M STILL THINKING about what to give up for Lent, my friend said this morning. And I wasn’t much help. I’m not much of a giver-upper for Lent these days. More of a take-something-upper. But let it not be some heavy or miserable task. Let it be something of Lent, something “to lengthen” Spring days. Something to widen the smile. Something to put a spring in a lengthening stride. Something that’s outward looking, life enhancing, broad and wide.
I imagine that Jesus was “guided by the Spirit” into the “wilderness” so that he had a chance to weigh up what was really important in and about his own life before encouraging others to “consider” what was important about theirs. I wonder whether he was even aware of his vocation to the preaching life at this stage?
And it seems to me that his grappling must have worked. And to good effect. For the preaching, teaching and healing ministry that followed his Lent, though brief in years, was to prove “lengthening” in a hundred thousand million ways – or more! Having lived Lent Jesus was patently charged, fizzing with life-changing “good news”, and – more than that – with good life for those who wanted to hear it and live it and for those who didn’t or couldn’t.
Jesus taught and lived healing and liberating stuff: Love life – especially, perhaps particularly, the life in others first. And so transform your world. Your world. And that of those around you.
Not so much a churchy-sort-of-a-Lent in Jesus’ mind then? More a case – in the first instance – of being glad to be alive, of being glad to be in God. And sharing that gladness. That’s transforming. That close and connected relationship with God, and with the life God breathes into us. That’s what makes flowers bloom in wilderness and in deserts … especially the deserts of our hearts.