We enter the Season of Lent this month. Ash Wednesday is February 22nd. It seems as though we just were singing Christmas songs! Lent is a time when we slow down and examine our lives and try to align them with God. You do know what God is after in your own life, don’t you? Maybe that’s why we stay so busy—to avoid knowing, so we can avoid dealing with it.
And you do know that the “quick fix” doesn’t ever work. Simply telling myself, “You are too busy, Dave. You’ve got to slow down,” is about as effective as telling an addict to quit. (Has it worked for you?)
There are forces driving the way I live, reasons and compulsions written deep in my soul. I know where my pushing and striving come from. They come from unbelief, from some deep fear that it’s all up to me. Life is up to me. I’ve got to make as much headway as I can before the bottom drops out. Make hay while the sun shines ’cause it isn’t always going to shine and what’s that underlying dread? God is not just after behavior modification (as in, stop it), but real and deep and lasting change.
And that brings me to another assumption that we must hold if we would walk with God—true holiness requires the healing of our souls.
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. (Ephesians 1:3–4 The Message)
Whole and holy. The two go hand in hand. Oh, how important this is. You can’t find the holiness you want without deep wholeness. And you can’t find the wholeness you want without deep holiness. You can’t simply tell the meth addict to quit. She does need to quit, but she requires profound healing to be able to quit. You can’t just tell a raging man to stop losing his temper. He would love to stop. He’d give anything to stop. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know all the forces within him that swell up and overwhelm him with anger. Telling him to stop raging is like telling him to hold back the sea.
For too long there have been two camps in Christendom. One is the holiness, or “righteousness,” crowd. They are the folks holding up the standard, preaching a message of moral purity. The results have been. . . mixed. Some morality, and a great deal of guilt and shame. Very little lasting change comes from this approach. Hey, I’m all for purity. It’s just that you can’t get there without the healing of your soul.
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
We are thirsty, and that is a very good thing. It may not be comfortable, but it is good. If you aren’t aware of your hunger, you’re not very motivated to go to the banqueting table. If you aren’t aware of your thirst, you don’t seek something to drink…
In our world, we are barraged with options as to how to quench our thirst. We are buried in advertisements and information and suggestions and ideas and products and programs and have you heard the latest? Catalogs and flyers are felling forests to offer an answer to our ache, to assuage our thirst.
I have tried a lot of them. I’ve bought the shoes, read the book, done the study, and attended the program. I’m still thirsty. Scientists warn that the ability to be aware of and respond to thirst is slowly blunted as we age. In a world that oftentimes feels as dry as a desert, we can become numb to our own thirst.
But as we are being transformed into the image of Christ, we don’t want to grow numb but increasingly thirsty. I’ve tried to assuage my thirsty heart. I still need something to drink. I need the Living Water himself. So do you. It is our most precious fundamental need. Jesus invites, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (John 7:37 NIV). May our thirst always lead us to the living waters of Jesus Christ. Remember our Lenten journey always leads to an empty tomb!