Lent, with its 40 days observance, is a commemoration of Jesus’ own experience of being led out by the Spirit into the desert. The experience of being led out, inspired, or moved by the Spirit to go away from the comforts of home into the wilderness is the same for every Christian this Lent.
The mention of home is not just a metaphor to family and the house where you grew up in. I believe this home is something deeper and more encompassing than familial relationships or the domicile. Home for me is everything in your existence that makes you comfortable and at ease. Be they bonds of relationships, physical comforts, financial security, emotional stability, intellectual achievement, everything that brings about security in your existence is your home.
And Jesus is inviting us to go out of our homes, to leave that place of security, and into the unknown, into insecurity and discomfort. He challenges us this Lenten season to go out of our shells, naked and vulnerable, out into the open in order to see for ourselves the horizons blocked out by eyes already at ease with comfort. It is in the limits of the wilderness that you see how small your world has been and this opens you up to real growth.
We do not physically leave our houses to venture into forests and live with wildlife. No, we venture into living life with better set of behaviors, more pronounced and lively outlook, and a stronger will to do and stay good. Perhaps there are bad habits that need to be broken and good ones that need to gain traction. Perhaps there are relationships that have turned either stale or sour that needs to be reinvigorated or repaired. Perhaps the will to live and fully experience life has waned through time and test and one needs to revisit the core of one’s existence.
Even more, it is an invitation to leave the lethargy in spiritual battle and charge out into the front lines. To face one’s inner demons and point out the very weaknesses that has kept one from standing up again. It is a call to courageous admission of one’s imperfections, and facing them squarely vow to accept them and improve on them. It is a call to remove sin from one’s internal life and proceed on to live at peace with God.
The deepest call of Lent perhaps is for us to examine our love for God, how it is lived and expressed towards Him and our neighbors. It is a call to revisit those instances in our lives when we were truly touched by the Spirit and have met God in the inner locus of our being. It is a call to go back there without the distraction of the comforts of the world or the rest of creation, our persons bare, naked, and vulnerable before God.
Yes, Lent for me is that time to go out into the open. To be see and be seen naked by oneself and God, with all the imperfections and all the potential. For it is in the wilderness of discomfort that we begin to see the truth and in truth we find freedom and growth.
All these may remain to be words unless we take up the challenge. Can I challenge myself to love more each day the persons I already love and begin to love those I find difficult to love? Can I challenge myself to break bad habits and form new good ones? Can I challenge myself know better Christ that I may love him better? The list goes on and on.
But Lent begins with the single challenge to challenge, to have a strong resolve and will, to be led out by the Spirit into the open, not alone, but sharing in the same challenge with Jesus.