A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Experiencing God in the Trenches of Life. That’s where we live, isn’t it? In the trenches? In the places where the good, the bad, and the ugly find expression? In the everyday and routine world where life happens? Whether we are ready or not, life happens; everyday and without exception.
One of the key factors of the life of Jesus is our belief that He brings into the everyday and routine world the very life of God. In Jesus, God gets right down in the trenches, gets His hands dirty as it were, and brings the gifts of love, mercy, and grace right down into where we live.
As you know, during the Lent Season we do not count Sundays. Sunday is resurrection day. So, we say that the Sundays are in Lent, but not of Lent. Lent is a forty-day period of examination, prayer, fasting, listening, and seeking. In a very real way, Lent takes us to the depths of our humanity and exposes our deep need for God. It is a time to open our hearts to Scripture to see how people live and go about their lives and to see how God is in the midst; what God is saying, thinking, and revealing. Then, on Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and remember the victory that has been won for the universe.
I grew up in a little church that sang songs over and over. Several of these songs have stuck with me through the year, even into this late time in my life. The first verse and chorus of one of those songs is my testimony, and clarifies for me how God is present in the trenches of my life to lift me into His grace and mercy.
I was sinking deep in sin,
far from the peaceful shore,
very deeply stained within,
sinking to rise no more;
but the Master of the sea
heard my despairing cry,
from the waters lifted me;
now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.
- James Rowe and Howard E. Smith, 1912
When I come to Lent I am reminded of the brokenness of our world, the brokenness of my own life. Here, I am brought face to face with my story, a story of a person "deeply stained within." I am brought face to face with the story of God, a story in which He could have written me off and no one would have held it against Him, who, instead, "heard my despairing cry" and reached out into the deep waters and "lifted me."
Hopefully, in Lent this year we will see the "waters" that seek to do us in, see our own story and stain, and realize that though we were "sinking to rise no more," God has come into the fray, poured out His amazing love, reached out right into the mess, and lifted us into His very life.
We are a lifted people, aren’t we? God’s amazing love has come into the very world that did not want to make room for Him, and on Easter Sunday morning causes us all to proclaim, "Love wins." In spite of the world being "deeply stained," love took the blows, took the pain, took the suffering, took our story, and came up out of the grave on Easter Morning alive.
Before we get to that glorious morning, however, let’s take a journey through the trenches. Let’s see God in the midst so that, in His time, we will be able to see ourselves invited into the very story of God. Someone once said, "Never forget from whence you come." Lent helps us remember from whence we come, but even more importantly, leads us into the hope born of God. God comes into the trenches to reach into our lives but He does not leave us there.
We journey forward knowing that God is in the midst, that grace is present, that Easter is coming, and that love will win the day.
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