Did this time of the year ever drag as a kid? I remember trying to taste summer break and coming up short. Summer and the freedom that comes with it are a long ways away right now. As an adult, this time of year seems to drag on too, as if we’re in no man’s land.
The glow of the New Year isn’t on the radar anymore and it’s all-too-familiar to think in circles. It’s hard to even talk about wanting so badly to have it all together when the emptiness deepens. Anxiety sets in when we’re trying to grab on to something comforting that we cannot quite reach. This emptiness causes us to focus on our fears and it becomes almost maddening. Wasn’t it just two months ago when we sang ‘should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?’ with the hope that comes from a glimpse at the joy of new life? How have things returned to normal, in the painful sense of the word, so fast?
Jesus once warned his friend Peter that he would be tempted to betray the one most dear to him: his teacher Jesus. Being led into temptation can be a somewhat medieval sounding concept. What it means is simply being drawn from doing good to doing bad, being drawn away from the path we were on, to fearing the emptiness of being empty. In the story, Jesus famously tells Peter he would be tempted to deny his connection to Jesus. Peter, of course, denies he would do such only to find himself swearing up and down he never knew the man just days later (Luke 22:31-62). His pride led him to a great fall and he experienced remorse over his decision to deny Jesus. How can we avoid what happened to Peter?
In the season of Lent followers of Jesus prepare themselves every year to go with Jesus to His death on the cross on Good Friday, and His resurrection three days later on Easter. It’s a time of preparation for Easter Sunday. And what better way to give the normal temptations in life a run for their money than by making a “pilgrimage?” In the midst of coming up short and searching, Christ’s story is a journey that leads straight to the turning points in our lives: the moment when God reconciles Himself to buy us back. When He dies for our sins, He opens up a way for our ‘hearts and minds and strength and soul’ to get back on the right track, away from no man’s land, away from anxiety that can set in.
If you would, come and go on this journey that we celebrate year after year. You will not be alone. What’s more, we will be restored on this journey together. Holy Week is one of the weeks of the year when we are made to know that our anxieties, emptinesses, and strivings can be caught up into something much bigger and deeper than ourselves and be made well. Jesus tells us to come and pick up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26). The process of getting it right is to come and lay down our temptations so that we might be raised up in His forgiveness and grace. This time of year may drag on, but not if we’re open to the comfort that He provides all year long. Come and join us as we join Him.