Our post here comes from dear friend, Sam Stockwell. Here it is:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Perhaps Eliot wasn’t thinking of Lent when he penned these words. And yet, Eliot lays before us the perfect opportunity for this season of Lent: exploration.
And just as explorers wade rivers and cross chasms so we too must come face to face with the turbulence of our own souls and the despair, fear, and worry of our own hearts. Just as explorers gather tools, maps, companions, so we too must use scripture, prayer, and reflection to guide us on this journey. Because Lent is not just giving up meat, or sweets, or Facebook. It is a call to explore.
Press in. Press on. Explore.
This season of Lent, of exploration, reveals our true selves. Christ ventured into the desert at the outset of His ministry, and Lent calls us to follow. We must journey out into the desert with nothing but wasteland before us and comfort behind us. Christ’s 40 days of prayer and fasting exposed Him for who He truly was and is: the Messiah, the Son of God. Through fasting and praying in the desert Christ laid the foundation for his messianic ministry of redemption.
Our days in the desert expose the disquiet lurking beneath the surface of our busy lives. This journey strips away the distractions, the hustle, the bustle, and anxieties of our drudgery to expose not the divine, but the distressingly mortal. Because, it is only when we carve a path through the dense wilderness, hacking away at self-deception, self-comfort, and self-pity, that we’re able to come to grips with who we truly are. Wandering. Starving. Afraid.
And very much in need of redemption.
And it’s only in exploring, venturing out into the desert, that we can truly find our way back to where we began. Lent leads us back to the place where it all started. Where we started. We trudge through the desert, starving and thirsty, and arrive on Good Friday at the level ground beneath the cross, gazing at our Savior. Broken. Crushed. Afflicted. Pierced for our transgressions. Wounded for our iniquities. The weight of our worries, missteps, wrongdoings, crushing his shaking, collapsing shoulders.
And then we wait. And we watch. And we pray.
And on Sunday morning we rush to the tomb to find it empty. And we see it like we’ve never seen it before. Cavernous. More marvelous than we dared hope and more beautiful than we could have possibly imagined. Hewn from living rock and bursting, overflowing with the love of a Savior who would sacrifice everything on our behalf.
This is the end of all our exploring. The end of searching, our yearning. Here is our end and our true beginning wrapped up in those empty grave clothes folded inside this empty tomb. And we see it. And we know it like we’ve never known it before.
So explore. Chart a course for the middle of your desert and peel back the layers of comfort and coziness that suppress the gnawing in your soul that all is not right. Sit, broken, at the foot of the cross and race to that empty tomb on Easter morning. May you see that tomb as you saw it for the very first time. And may your days and weeks in the desert show you more of who you truly are so that you might understand how deep and how wide is the love of our Savior.