“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” – Hebrews 12:1-3, MSG
It’s been seven months now since I moved away from home. Not that Earth-shattering in the grand scheme of things considering that I just moved 2.5 hours away and I’m at least in the same state but hey, for me, these seven months have been jam-packed.
This move has been easy. It’s been smooth and natural and in many ways, it was a long time coming. But it’s also been hard. Difficult in ways that I don’t even fully know how to articulate to another person. This journey has been rocky and revealing and messy but I’ve been stretched in some ways and strengthened in others and so this journey also feels holy to me.
Hard and holy.
Two words that have been a recurring theme in my mind lately when I think of my life and the soul work that God has been doing in this season.
This time last year, I was going through Blue Letter Bible’s Chronological Bible plan and was reading of the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness towards the promised land. I resonated with the story, I thought. I had been journeying through a season of preparation for 2.5 years and felt like I was like the Israelites in a way and moving closer and closer to the “promised land” that I had been envisioning.
Admittedly, there is a slight sense of grieving over the story that didn’t come to fruition. But what I know of God and this life that we are doing together is that my grief for what could have been doesn’t negate the feelings of hopeful expectation for what is to come in this new story. And on this Ash Wednesday, that is what I am clinging to.
Lent is a season that is becoming increasingly precious to me with every year that goes by. It’s more than just 40 days of giving up candy or soda – as it so often was when I was a child. It’s an opportunity for reflection, fasting, and prayer. A chance to draw near to Jesus in the days leading up to His ultimate sacrifice. The words in the verses above – “Because he never lost sight of where he was headed” – stick out to me, especially today on Ash Wednesday. How many times have we lost sight of where we were doing and what we are working towards?
It is my prayer that this Lenten season would be an opportunity to re-orient myself and lean further into Him. That it would be a sweet reminder to not lose sight of where I’m headed. For me, the Lord is leading me to fast from sleeping in so that I can reestablish margin and space for spending time with Him in the mornings. And although the decision of what I’m fasting from didn’t really come until yesterday, I think it’s been a long time coming and a beautiful continuation of what the Lord has already been doing in my heart this past month.
And so I am here at Ash Wednesday in hopeful expectation and eager longing for what is to come and what the Lord is going to do through this season.