Romans 8:28; Isaiah 25:1; John 1:1-2
There once was a family that was always late for church—five, ten, or even fifteen minutes late. If they sat down in the pew before the offering was collected, then they considered themselves to be “on time.”
One Sunday, though, they arrived quite early. Daylight savings time had ended the night before, and they had forgotten to set their clocks back. Walking into the building, they immediately realized that they were fifty minutes ahead of schedule. (Notice they were only fifty minutes early—as usual, they were running ten minutes late.)
They could not believe they were early for church! They had never been early in their lives. They decided to celebrate by going down the street to get some breakfast at the local diner. After they paid the bill and walked back up the street to church, they were…you guessed it!—ten minutes late!
Now, you might hear that story and think to yourself: You just described my family. Perhaps you are chronically late—late for church, late for work, late for everything. Perhaps your whole family is chronically late. Maybe you perpetually run behind schedule and arrive everywhere just a little disheveled.
Or maybe this story made you roll your eyes. Perhaps you pride yourself on being punctual. Perhaps you are chronically early.
Lent is a journey that ends with resurrection, but by way of the desert and the cross. Anyone who takes it seriously quickly discovers the challenge of entering into this wilderness. It is not a casual shift—we must devote ourselves to it as a matter of the heart. Nor is it a sudden shift—we have to unravel the entangled habits of our bodies, and make ready our preoccupied minds. In these first few days of Lent, we are trying to downshift slowly and thoughtfully from our normal routine into the rhythms of Lent. There are perhaps a few groups of people at this point: latecomers, early goers, and those who are neither here nor there.
Most of us have experienced being early. And most of us know what it’s like to be running late. But God is different. Our Lord never runs late or falls behind schedule. He never shakes half-baked schemes out of his sleeve at the very last second. The Almighty never strains to catch up or keep up. God’s plans always come together with perfection and right on time. We see this vividly as we consider God’s perfect plan to save us in his Son, Jesus Christ.
This is what Lent is about: joining the company of God’s people to consider Jesus’ suffering and death; denying ourselves and being sustained by God so that we may run straighter and stronger; gaining hope and strength from the faithfulness of God in Christ Jesus. Wherever you are today – behind, astray, on course – fix your eyes on Jesus, our brave frontrunner and generous host.
Entry adapted from Central Territory Lenten Resources