Not because I want to get back to what I gave up or back to my regular routine. No, in fact after this Lenten Season, I will never be the same.
These last 30+ days have been incredibly difficult. Sure, I asked to have my faith challenged. But unfortunately for me, when I prayed for that, I forgot God's typical method for spiritual expansion is through pain and suffering.
But the events of the last month or so have put such a fine point on the pain of The Cross. I have long identified with the rest of the Disciples. When haven't I been a Peter or Thomas or Judas? But it occurred to me yesterday in worship that I have never been a John. I have never watched my beloved Messiah & Friend suffer terrible things because of the rampant evil of the world. I have not suffered in or for my faith my whole life. It has been either charmed or blessed, depending which way you see it.
This season of my life points with such intensity to the emotional, spiritual and physical pain of Holy Week like never before. To be on the outside looking in on someone else's pain; that I can really identify with this year. To see your dearly loved hurting and to be only remotely helpful - is a terrible position to be in. It leaves its own deep-seated wounds.
A particular discipline I like to practice during Holy Week is "pick a character" from the Gospels. Then, you meditate on what the events of this week meant to them. Peter has, by in large, been the Disciple I've most closely identified with. But this year, my view of the Cross is found in the first part of John 19:26-
When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved...
Certainly, I could choose to picture myself as Mary, that would be relate-able - after all I watch my child go through hell for at least half of every month. But that is also a little unattainable. I truly think Mary was a different class of mother - to have raised the Son of God; that I can't relate to.
It is more plausible for me to put myself in John's shoes, to think about how he was feeling and how that translated into his reaction Sunday morning. His view of Christ's pain turned into the Gospel of Love and the Book of Revelation. His life was transformed by watching Christ on the Cross and I certainly want that for me and mine.
In the end, when redemption comes and this season is behind us (and it will be one day), our joy will be intensified all that much more.
Pain is temporary, glory is forever.
But first, I must face Jesus at the Cross and let my own pain be healed by His.
By His Wounds....By His Wounds....We are healed.