Lenten reflection: Preparing our hearts for God’s wonder

Larry Livingston Every Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA church relations director Larry Livingston.

The readings for the First Sunday of Lent offer some powerful images of cleansing. First we have the story of God’s covenant with Noah following the flood that cleansed the earth.

The second reading, from the First Letter of Peter, follows on the Noah imagery and connects it to the cleansing death of Jesus on the cross, while the Gospel offers Mark’s simple and direct account of Jesus’ purifying trek into the desert before he began his public ministry.

This cleansing motif makes me recall the times when, as a kid, I would find myself sentenced to cleaning my room.

My usual pattern would be to spend a few minutes pouting over the sheer injustice of it all, and then start figuring out ways to hide the mess so it would look as if I had actually straightened up.

But, of course, my mother would inevitably look under the bed or in the closet and I’d be busted.

I know now that it would have taken half the time and energy to actually clean my room as it did to create the illusion of cleanliness, but as a kid there was no room in my brain for such logical nonsense.

Santiago, CFCA sponsored child in Guatemala

Santiago, CFCA sponsored child in Guatemala.

It really isn’t all that different from how some folks approach the season of Lent.

Instead of taking advantage of the Lenten invitation to do some meaningful cleansing of some of the things that distract them from loving God and others, they stuff those things into the closet until Easter while patting themselves on the back that they were able to give up some minor comfort for 40 days.

It isn’t that our small Lenten disciplines aren’t meaningful ñ for they certainly are ñ but the uncomfortable and indispensable truth is that only a heart truly free of worldly clutter can embrace the wonder of a God who loves us enough to die for us.

That kind of heart-cleansing is hard to do and, truth be told, most of us never completely get the hang of it. So it is a good thing we have Lent to hold our feet to the fire.

It is also good to have examples in our lives of people who manage to live relatively clutter-free, and this is one of the blessings of belonging to the CFCA community.

Our sponsored friends teach us much about the difference between need and want and, by the simple dignity of their lives, provide a valuable lesson in uncluttered living.

My prayer for each of us during this Lenten season is that we can unclutter our hearts just a bit more, and that we might cross paths with people who can help us do it.

Wouldn’t it be good to arrive at Easter this year with hearts clean enough to hold the wonder of it all?

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