The Way Up Is Down

Heads up! This post was published about 12 years ago.

For Lent 2010, I’m writing a series of daily meditations for our church (and whoever else is interested). You can snag a RSS feed from the REP blog. The first day’s meditation is below.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. -1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)

cross-radiate-stillHave you ever wondered what the word ‘Lent’ means? It comes from the Old English word lencten, springtime.  A closely-related Old English word is lengan, from which we get our word ‘lengthen’. The days are getting longer; spring is just around the corner; the frozen earth of winter is about to warm and thaw. But Lent is really about a deeper kind of thaw: the warming of our frozen hearts. It is meant to be a time of preparation for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Lent is a time of sharing, even in some small way, in Christ’s sufferings so that we may also experience the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11).

The way up is down. We must humble ourselves before we are in a position to be lifted up by God and experience joy in the free, overflowing life to be found in Jesus.

Would you pray this prayer in preparation for the journey?

The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me. Amen.
(prayer from Henri Nouwen, Show Me The Way)