Lent is time in between. It is fasting between feasts—Epiphany and Easter. It comes at the end of winter and—in some places (places not like Arizona)—the darkness of Lent mirrors the darkness near the end of winter. Easter and Spring are coming and they mean rebirth and new life…but in Lent, we’re not there yet.
Lent comes as we wait for a change of seasons.
Take a minute and take stock. What are you waiting for now? Have you experienced loss in your job or your relationships? Do you need new life and rebirth in your family or your heart?
My life is reflecting Lent this year. We are in a time of waiting. Our little family is so close to change, but we’re not quite there yet. My hubby is retiring from the military, and we will soon be moving for the last time. Moving to our new home will be the Easter of our marriage. It will be a sort of rebirth.
Scott first went to basic training in Texas at 17 years old. His life has been governed by time in the military. Me too. I have been a military dependent for all but 10 of my 47 years here on earth. My daddy was a Marine Corps officer and my husband will retire as an Air Force officer.
When I read Amy’s book, Looming Transitions, I realized that my identity is observing Lent too! I am stuck, in between. I gave up my career long ago. My Master’s degree sits on the shelf. Instead, I became a stay-at-home mom…a diaper changer, a clothes washer, a toilet cleaner.
Then, against all odds, I became a homeschool mom. Now, this year we started homeschooling mostly online. My role as teacher is all but gone. In another year and a half, the kids will be attending a brick and mortar school. After that, college is not too far off. Once my kids are gone…I definitely won’t be a stay-at-home mom anymore.
Even now, I am not sure how to introduce myself. In a world of, Oh hi! What do you do? I am a little lost. Along with tons of other people, I have self-published on Amazon.com and have blogged to a handful of readers for years, but I still hesitate to call myself a “writer.” In a big way, my identity is being overhauled. I am in a time of waiting, but I’m not sure what’s next. How do we wait patiently, with purpose?
Lent is about waiting patiently,
approaching the in-between time with purpose.
With God, there is always purpose in our times of waiting, whether we realize it or not. Waiting is often a time of preparation. Lent commemorates a time of preparation for Jesus too, between His private life and His public ministry. Jesus lived a fairly anonymous life until He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. After that He was led into the wilderness for 40 days. This time would confirm Him, readying Him for ministry.
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1, ESV).
He was led by the Spirit…to enter into temptation. Jesus was isolated. He was hungry and tired. And He was taunted by a voice that mocked His identity, His purpose, and His relationship with God. At weak times, we can feel just like Jesus in the wilderness. And our best response imitates Him:
- Jesus accepted that His path was meant to take Him through the wilderness. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV).
- Jesus resisted temptation by answering the taunting voice with scripture. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5, ESV).
- Jesus didn’t do hand-to-hand battle with evil, He simply resisted the devil. He submitted Himself to the authority of God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, ESV).
Are you like me, stuck, in a time of waiting? Are you in between a health scare and a diagnosis? Are you in between a broken relationship and reconciliation? Are you in between motherhood and an empty nest? Are you waiting for your deployed husband to come home so your life can “get back to normal”?
Lord, help us. Help us to hold tightly to the truth that there is always purpose in the waiting, always some kind of ministry after our times of preparation. Remind us not to give in to the voice that taunts us about our identity, purpose or relationship with You. Enable us to resist the temptation to sit in discouragement by holding fast to Your Word. Thank You, that You have promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
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