Yesterday we celebrated Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the Lenten Season. The day is a solemn reminder of our mortality and the need for repentance and reconciliation with God. This ritual of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents of the Christian Faith is also a sign of mourning. The beginning of this 40-day period preceding Palm Sunday is a time of spiritual preparation in anticipation of Easter. Many Christians utilize this time to reflect on and observe the spiritual disciplines. This is also a time to reflect on Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection.
The significance of 40 days is biblical. For this article, we will highlight two – Noah and the Flood and Jesus’ Temptation. During the Flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4, 12, 17; 8:6). Jesus was tempted after He spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).
Each of the above accounts called for a special kind of preparation and reflection. Both Noah and Jesus were obedient to God; their social behaviors were consistent with their spiritual behaviors. It was not either/or, it was both. As Christians, the same applies to us. Our social and spiritual behaviors undoubtedly affect the outcome of our relationship with God. We cannot choose to be selective or seasonal or situational in our relationship with God. This Lenten Season should draw our attention to a serious time of preparation and reflection on how to stay in love with God.
One of the ways we can stay connected to and in love with God is to avoid drifting away from God. Anyone who knows about beaches knows that there are some beaches where the sand drifts away. The only remedy to stop this drifting is to bring in more sand continually to replenish the beach. Our spiritual life is similar to the beach. Unless we continue to renew our relationship with God and our community, our natural tendency is to drift away. If we find ourselves becoming distracted by the conditions of life, let us call on God and set an appointment with God because our relationship is a call and response – God will respond to our call and needs.
God called Noah and Jesus – both of them responded affirmatively. God is calling and doing something new in our lives during this season – what is our response? Consider Noah and the flood and Jesus’ temptation in the context of a flood pandemic and temptations during a pandemic. Noah’s preparation for a “flood pandemic” is evidenced by his obedience to God. God shut the door for Noah. Noah remained in the boat for a good while after the rain had ceased. His first response to stepping out onto dry land was an act of worship. During this Lenten Season, let us reflect on our obedience to God. Let us expect God to “shut” the door as a way of protecting and saving us from this pandemic. As a response, let us anticipate the time when God will release us to a safe community where we will return our praise.
The greatest praise we can offer to the Lord is hallelujah praise. And we pray that when we escape the wilderness of this pandemic, we will offer thanksgiving of praise. As Christians, we face temptations just as Jesus did. Jesus experienced the temptation of comfort, the temptation to test God, and the temptation to turn away from God. But He was obedient to death, even death on the Cross. The wilderness is not the place where God desires for us to live, but it is a place where God prepares and nurtures us for living. Let us live well during this time of social isolation and discomfort. We believe that we will not remain in the wilderness of the pandemic forever, but we must travel through it rightly, not looking inwardly at our own needs and desires and forgetting about others, but remembering that we are all in this together. So, let us walk with each other on this spiritual Lenten journey.
Blessings to you!