The mirror shines, freshly cleaned, Windex sitting on the nearby counter. Polished to a perfect gleam, I see me.
Sleepy eyed, messy morning hair, not-yet brushed teeth. Glancing quickly back to the sink, I pull out the toothpaste, the comb, the makeup. Without a second glance at that messy reflection, I primp and prod until the reflection reveals a more suitable image. The dark under-eye bags, the blemishes, the frizzy hair…they all disappear.
Day after day, morning after morning, the mirror reveals an image only to me...and I change and tweak what I want the world to see before I take a single step out the door.
Welcome to Lent.
Lent is a strange season. We approach Ash Wednesday with somber hearts, motivated to perform and anxious for God to reveal Himself in some new way. Often, when our resolve is true, we are amazed and rejuvenated 40 days later. Even more frequently, we struggle to maintain a sense of depth only days after the ashen cross is rubbed across our foreheads. How easily we forget to be somber when distractions flicker across our lives. How quickly we push aside this strange season of reflection, because in all honesty: Lent gets uncomfortable. So shortly after we’ve all made our New Year’s Resolutions, suddenly the Christian calendar throws us for another loop. “Give something up.” “Give something back.” “Find God.” Do this, do that, be better, grow spiritually.
In the hard moments of life, in the periods of spiritual drought, when prayer is hard and knowing God is harder, finding Him in Lent feels impossible. Does the church not know we’re tired? We’re busy? We want God but…how? How do we embrace this season of vulnerability when we’re still pretending we have it all together? How do we surrender control, let God work in our lives, and approach Easter refreshed and humbled, when we hide behind the façade we slather on every morning? How can we be changed if we won’t be revealed?
Gently, quietly, we are called to come before the cross and let go of all the masks we hold over our faces. Let go of the idea that we need to hold it all together. Let go of the show we put on every morning. Let go of the secrets we hold close to our hearts. The season of Lent is a season where God seems to reach out to us and whisper, “Let’s get real.”
We’re on-stage and the show is running, we’re at work with deadlines and co-workers; we’re in church with burdens on our backs and smiles on our faces… and we need to stop pretending, be vulnerable, and be honest. Trying to fast in the season of Lent while still wearing a mask is nearly impossible. As we prepare for Easter, mourning the death of Christ and celebrating His resurrection, we need to open our hearts to His word and His redemption. Here, in this moment, He asks us to let everything else go and let Him be our Savior.
You see, God sees us: just as we are in this very moment. He has seen the darkness that resides in humanity and He has called us his beloved. He knows the hidden sins, the hearts that hurt, the choices that destroy, and He still chooses to reach out to us in love and faithfulness. When our hearts choose lesser gods, His heart breaks. When we say no, He says, “I love you.” When we turn our backs, He waits patiently. When we hide behind our masks, He gently pulls them away and says, “You are chosen.”
As we embrace Lent, we remember that Jesus sees through the show. He sees beneath the masks we wear, the sins, the secrets…He sees us in all of our dirt and depravity and He invites us to join Him regardless. No matter how hard we try to cover up our mistakes, our shortcomings, and our regrets, He loves us beyond measure. No matter how hard we try, no matter what we choose to reveal to the outside world, He sees us. When we embrace this raw honesty, this terrifying vulnerability, we invite Him to work amid the brokenness and reveal a picture cleaner than we could ever have imagined.
Lent is a season of revealing. The One who loves us most is gently asking us to get real and let Him work in our brokenness. As we journey through Lent, this remarkable and often difficult journey, let us approach each day with a renewed sense of honesty. Only when we approach the cross with humility and raw vulnerability do we truly begin to see just how magnificent God’s grace is in our lives.
The mirror shines, freshly cleaned, Windex sitting on the nearby counter. Polished to a perfect gleam, I see us. The church.
Christ-followers, lovers of Jesus, the people of God. We have been challenged; we are standing before the mirror of Lent and taking this season one day at a time. As the mirror glistens, daily, we must ask ourselves… will we allow God to be revealed in the midst of our brokenness?
Welcome to Lent.