Titus 3:3-7 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit generously poured out on us through Jesus . . . Because of his grace he declared us righteous.
HE saved us. Lent teaches us we can’t save ourselves. We can, though, pray like the tax collector in one of Jesus’ stories, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” You can read this beautiful story in Luke 18:9-14.
This last day of Lent feels bittersweet. It has gone by so fast! Have I taken enough time to sit with the Lord so he can accomplish in me all he desires? I’m comforted by realizing I can—and must—continue this practice through Holy Week and on through the “ordinary time” to come.
Ordinary time? What’s that? Will we ever experience ordinary time again? Read my friend Pam’s poetry, below, as she reflects on what coronavirus time means to her.
What has God done for you during this Lenten season? I would love to share YOUR “But God” story, to encourage everyone who reads this blog. Send it to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pam Sider works with One Challenge International like we do, but in Spain. She recently sent a beautiful poem, perfect for the conclusion of our Lenten walk toward Jerusalem. Here’s what she says about the context of the poem:
“Here in Spain during our two+ weeks so far of lockdown, we have had a LOT of spring rain. There have been conversations about if the rain makes it easier to have to stay indoors, with varying opinions. In general, most of us living in southern Spain are completely spoiled with the many days of sun. But today, the rain is speaking…and I for one, am listening.”
Let It Rain
by Pam Sider
The hard rain is buffeting the ground
The ground is oversaturated
and sits in docility
Receiving the abundance
The streets, patios, alleys & drains
surge with drops & swirls & rivulets
They join other sources in growing strength
And course together down the street in victory.
Oh! that it could wash away the virus!
Oh! that it could cleanse the air forever!
How we all need these spiritual rains
Showering down on our heads, our minds
Sanitizing our thoughts, unhealthy defaults
We need this atoning drizzle over our hearts & souls
I need it to pour over my emotions
taking the negative & toxic ones away in the stream
I need gentle showers over my spirit
refreshing, restoring, redeeming
And over all our bodies
Please let it rain atonement, cleansing, healing.
This hard rain buffeting the ground?
It is music, it is provision, it is life
It is God´s invitation to a deeper, internal work.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).
Here’s the last section of another poem by Pam, which arrived in my Inbox just this morning. The poem is called “Holy Pause.” Pam says, “For us in Spain, our quarantine (cuarentena) has lined up with Lent (cuaresma) and Easter. I doubt that is a coincidence. This year Passion Week will be full of a different kind of opportunity, a different kind of community, a different memory for years to come. May your home be full of love & grace.”
This extraordinary time calls for extraordinary attention.
Attention to the One writing out history.
Attention to the One who is redeeming in the midst of wars, chronic illness, vulnerability, natural disasters, human trafficking, crime, poverty….
Attention to the One who can redeem this virus, too.
Attention to our own hearts & His activity there.
Can we release our plans, our freedom, our right to choose?
Can we hold both hands open to our compassionate God,
One filled with grief and the other with trust?
For these two are companions; we experience both.
One does not cancel out the other;
we have to find a way to live with both, to hold both.
Like a lot of things Jesus does,
He accomplishes through paradoxes.
He is Love, Compassion, Power, Comfort, Mercy, so many things…
But he is also Mystery.
We cannot have it all figured out,
But we do know he is speaking.
So, this forced quiet, this compulsory isolation
Is it not an opportunity?
This gift of seclusion, is it not from God?