We're a week into Lent.
Already I feel weak.
I hunger to perfect Lent, to find the most fulfilling way to walk to the cross with Jesus. I want that closeness with God. I thirst.
So I have ditched the Diet Coke addiction. (Coffee, you are safe. For now...) I am getting back to drinking more water. And with every sip of that clean, pure liquid, I am asking God to clean me. Purify me. As only he can.
As I sip this earthly element, I try to immerse myself in God's living water, his living word. This month it is the promises of Genesis. This Lent it is the Good News of Mark. This week it is the compassion of 2 Corinthians.
I bounce around a bit, between Old and New Testaments. I bounce over the words, searching for the ones that grab my heart, soothe my soul.
Some days they do.
Today they don't.
I feel the lack. I feel my weakness. Frustration creeps in and crumples my hope.
I have a choice: steep in this stagnation or wait on the word. Bitterness or patience. Oh, God, give me the patience. Help me to find a foothold in your better way. Fill me with trust that you will transform me in your perfect timing.
Because Lent is not about me perfecting an earthly habit. It is about me trusting God's perfect and heavenly plan. My Lenten habit — your Lenten habit — is only a petition, a platform, for God to do his work in us. Some days we will try and in the trying we will see God. Some days we will try but our search will be cloudy. And other days we will forget. Fail. Fall. But every day God is there to pick us up, to hold us, to help us.
And when I realize that, that is when an old verse, tucked away in a corner of my mind comes to the surface.
Why be downcast? Why be disturbed? Let those feelings fall away. Instead, lean into the Lord. "Put your hope in God." Relax in his loving hold, his gracious help.
Today the word was not where I was looking, but where God had planted it. Just when I give up to weakness, God gives his grace. That is what I learn from Lent, each and every year. Because at the end of the twisting, rocky path, there is the glory of Easter morn.
May God's help and hope lead us all the way to the cross.