Today is the hardest day of Lent, because I know that so soon I can read again! Easter is coming. All Lent long I have been frustrated, wondering why on earth I decided to give up a good habit—one that I love so much I’ve built my career around it. These 40 days could not have gone by fast enough.
Never during Lent have I felt such longing for the thing I gave up. Usually I give up a bad habit, and so while I do want to indulge that bad habit again, I also feel satisfied in knowing that I’m making myself better by not having it. And I realized that that’s what the problem is with giving up something bad.
If you give up something bad, you’ve reached the goodness, and at the end of 40 days you only get to look forward to having something bad again. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what Lent is supposed to be about.
Lent is about experiencing longing for the Kingdom of God—the ultimate goodness in this world. Lent is to remind us that we are not fulfilled by this life. My career, my family, my dog, my house, my car, my friends… they are all good things, but with them my life is still lacking. Suffering still reaches me. I still see oppression everywhere I turn. I see pain and heartache. And I know that this world is not enough.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:18-24
Sometimes I forget that I’m waiting for the Kingdom. God is probably astonished by my stupidity, but sometimes I forget that I’m waiting to be fully incorporated into the Kingdom—complete with a brand new body. Sometimes I forget how I am saved.
The tradition of giving up something you hold dear for 40 days isn’t an effort to make you a better person. At the end of Lent, I don’t want to be able to say, “Wow, I’m so proud of myself. I gave up coffee/french fries/impulse shopping/etc. and look how much healthier I am!” In that situation, the end result is focused on me. But Lent is supposed to cause us to look to Christ. Lent is supposed to force us to remember that something so much greater is coming!! And when it comes, it’s going to be amazing!
I can’t wait to read tomorrow. It’s going to be like Christmas morning all over again. I’ve got it all planned out. I’m going to wake up early and try to get a solid two or three hours of reading in before church. And then I’ll spend the rest of the day reading. It’s going to be glorious.
And that is what we’re waiting for. That’s what Easter Sunday is. That’s how we’re supposed to feel about Jesus Christ coming again. We’re supposed to be constantly looking forward to it with joyful anticipation, thinking about all of the wonderful things we’ll do with Christ, thinking about how incredibly beautiful the world will be, thinking about how very very blessed we will be to finally, finally be with Jesus, surrounded by His glory. What a glorious day!!
And now, I can’t leave you all without a Jane Eyre reference. The character St. John is, obviously, not our favorite. Like I wrote before, the whole reason Jane cannot marry him is because he lacks empathy. He is so self-controlled that he cannot extend grace to others. (He reminds me of Javert from Les Miserables.) But St. John has one thing right, and it’s something so important that Charlotte Bronte wanted to end her masterpiece with it.
“My master,” [St. John] says, “has forewarned me. Daily he announces more distinctly,— ‘Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond,— ‘Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!'”
St. John is solely focused on Christ. In this book, no one longs for Christ more truly than St. John. And his final words to Jane are the last words that we find in the Bible. These words are so incredibly important that they are what the Author wanted to leave us with. If we get nothing else, hopefully we remember this:
Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
And we respond,
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!