Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season; a time for reflection and repentance, as we prepare for Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death.
Growing up in a Baptist church, Lent never seemed to be emphasized that much. To me, it was more associated with Catholic practices and those other “old-fashioned” Puritan-like churches. It wasn’t until late in high school, and throughout my college years that I started to take Lent a little more seriously. Yet even as I say “seriously,” I don’t adhere strictly to the typical fasts from meat/meals, or other penitential practices that I am not fully aware of. Instead, Lent has become more of a time to disconnect and sign off from social media (not completely, but more limiting), and to dedicate more time to face-to-face interaction and being more immersed in the Word. I’ve recently gotten around to reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster, (which was given to me several years ago), and am finding it quite helpful. I’m not through with it yet, but would highly recommend it if you are seeking to grow spiritually in Christian faith.
Anyway, I was sifting through my e-mail the other day, and came across a passage that I had copied down from one of my favorite “devotional” books, Leap Over A Wall by Eugene H. Peterson. On page 190, it reads:
Our sins aren’t that interesting; it’s God’s work that interesting. There’s nothing glamorous about sin, and it’s the devil’s work to make it look otherwise. Sin is diminishing, dehumanizing, and soon dull. After it’s been recognized and confessed, the less said about it the better. Psalm 51 does it right: there are only four different words used to name the sin, so it’s out in the open where it can be faced. These four sin-words are sufficient to adequately map the entire country of sin. But the central action is carried by nineteen different verbs used to invoke or declare God’s action of forgiveness and restoration. We have a finite number of ways to sin; God has an infinite number of ways to forgive. After observing the human conditions for a few years, we find that in regard to sin, we’re mostly watching reruns. After a while we find that people pretty much do the same old thing generation after generation. Sinning doesn’t take much imagination. But forgiveness and salvation? That’s a different story: every time it happens, it’s fresh, original, catching us by surprise. Sin isn’t creative work, and the more we’re around it, the duller it seems. Salvation, in contrast is “new every morning” (Lam. 3:23).
I’m not going to write a commentary on this excerpt. I just wanted to share it because I came across it again at such an appropriate time.