Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Little Lent

We are in the middle of Lent, the 40 days before Easter.  It is a time of preparation, when we remember Jesus turning to Jerusalem to be arrested, tortured and killed.  It is a time for us to look at our own lives, confessing that Jesus is the only way we can be saved.  In this season we often give things up to help us remember in a small way the immense sacrifice of Christ.  It can be a solemn time of inward looking. 

At the same time this larger Lenten season is happening, I am in the midst of my own time of preparation.  I have just over 40 days before I leave my job as Church Administrator, and around 50 before I start mission training.  As I have been trying to think of all the things I need to show my staff about my job, as I look at things at home, trying to figure out what to throw out, what to try and sell, what to store and what to ship, I am often overwhelmed. 

I have to admit it sometimes goes beyond that to near panic.  I’ve got to think about what I’ll need for 3 weeks in Colorado, then what to take for 3 months in Guatemala, and then what I’ll need in the D.R.  (I’m not heading back to the US in between Guat and DR so what I’m sending needs to be sent before the end of June.)  And, stuff with my job is even more complicated.  I do an odd variety of things, and a lot of what I do isn’t easily written out.  What key things I am forgetting that will cause all kinds of problems when I’m gone?

Keeping busy with all of these thoughts has actually helped me ignore one of the most overwhelming parts of the whole thing – leaving all those I love here.  I know, I truly know, this is God’s next call on my life.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be incredibly difficult to say goodbye.  I’m finding myself getting teary at the oddest times.  Little bits of grief creeping in.

As I have been going through this season of my own preparation, I find myself thinking about Jesus and His preparation for His final earthly days.  How did He feel knowing He was leaving His ministry of healing and teaching?  Did He have days when He felt overwhelmed by all that still needed to be done?  Did He look at His disciples and worry about leaving them?  Feel sorrow at not being able to hang out with them?  Did part of Him long to stay?  How did He prioritize all the pulls on Him time?  How did He begin to spiritually prepare for the grueling days ahead?
I feel rather presumptuous to be comparing my “little Lent” in any way to Jesus!  The tiny things I am experiencing are not worthy to be mentioned with His!  On the other hand, as a Christ-follower, I can in some small way identify with Him.   I am preparing for new things, I am leaving my present tasks, I am needing to trust that God will provide for those I am leaving behind. 
This is difficult for me!  But, I take comfort in the fact that since Jesus was fully human, He probably did experience some of my feelings of sorrow and concern.  Because He was also fully God, I can look at His final days to learn how to cope with my own.  Reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus before His death and resurrection, I am challenged and encouraged.  Jesus continued to look to His Father, knowing that if He was obedient to Him, the rest would be okay.  Not easy, not simple, not without pain, but it would be within the Father’s will.  Increase my trust in You, I pray! 

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