Lent: Another Thought

In Escanaba, the longest-running joke among the church staff was Isaac’s Car. My senior pastor, our secretary, even the janitor knew to look out the window when I came in to see if I was driving my own car or one I had borrowed from my parents or the mechanic while mine was being fixed. I could never find myself in parking lots because I never remembered which color and model I was driving that week. On long trips, I carried a case of motor oil, a toolbox and a tow truck in the back seat. To keep my little blue car running, old parts had to be constantly taken out and new ones put in their place.

There’s a verse in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 12) about being freed of evil spirits. Jesus taught that if you take sin out of your life, but then don’t fill its place with something good, you leave room for your old sin to come back with all its friends, and you wind up in worse condition than before.

It wouldn’t have done any good for my mechanic to take a broken part out of my car and leave its place empty for forty days, then put the old part back. Just the same way, our Lenten disciplines won’t do us very much good if we give something up just to put it back again when Easter comes.

True growth comes from replacing old habits with new ones. True life in Christ comes from replacing our sinful self with his perfection. Last year, when television was my sacrifice, I replaced its time with reading and study. This year, when I’ve given up snacks between meals, I’m using the cravings left by my old habit to remind me to drink enough water every day.

As we close the season of Lent and celebrate being Easter people, my prayer for all of us is that we leave our old sins no room in our new lives to move back in.

1 comment:

Esther said...

You know, I have spent hours trying to figure out what that passage from Matthew meant and I never got it. That's really cool. Thanks.

Sometimes my brain needs help.