One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen wrote:
Jesus is God-with-us, Emmanuel. The great mystery of God becoming human is God’s desire to be loved by us. By becoming a vulnerable child, completely dependent on human care, God wants to take away all distance between the human and the divine.
I’ve always both dreaded and loved Lent. I’ve dreaded it because it can feel like a ‘weighty’ 40 days…difficult to navigate…emotionally muddy. And while we know that Easter joy is coming, Lent has felt like the large pile of green vegetables that you have to finish before you get to the dessert.
But I also love Lent. I don’t understand why, but I somehow feel closer and more connected to God during the season of Lent than I do at other times of the year. Maybe it’s because it’s a different time…a time set aside. Maybe it’s because we focus on spiritual disciplines more during Lent. Perhaps it’s because the additional Lenten services keep the work of God in front of me. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.
Somehow, I feel more connected to God at this time of year.
During Lent, it feels like the separation between my life and the Holy becomes thin. Paper thin. And as we draw closer to Holy Week, it’s as if the paper becomes more translucent. And I’m able to more clearly discern what God is up to in the world around me.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.” – Matthew 27:51
Then there is Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter morning. The curtain is split in two. That paper thin separation between God and God’s people is burst through with the love and grace of God who seeks us, reaches out to us and restores our relationship. Because of Jesus; because of His death and resurrection, the operating system for our whole faith is rewritten from one that centers on separation, to one that focuses on unity. The paper thin separation becomes no separation at all. And as Romans 8 promises, nothing can separate us from God again.
This is the gift of this season, my friends. To watch this relationship shift from one of separation to one of unity and from one of distance to one of intimacy.
This Lent, look. See what God is up to. The separation between God and each of us is just paper thin. And wait to celebrate Easter…the day that this separation vanishes, and our relationship is restored.