All of us run from the cross. I know that I am not alone in this. The cross was the last piece of the puzzle that I ran from my entire Christian life. The cross is in many ways counter-intuitive and incomprehensible.
As a society we are focused on success, prosperity, title, status… Where does the cross fit into this? Jesus was scourged, whipped, mocked, tortured, executed. By the standards of our contemporary worldview Jesus was a failure. None of the disciples wanted the cross (Matthew 16:21-23). That’s not how they envisioned their hero’s end.
None of us want to face the crosses in our society and world. No one wants to deal with the Arizona border with Mexico and with immigration. It is a tangled web that vexes our hearts and minds. The Republicans can’t get over the hump of immigration and neither can the Democrats. It is a kind of black hole. Likewise, no one wants to come to terms with the fact that 1.4 billion people will go to bed hungry tonight.
None of us wants to face the crosses in our own lives either. We are accustomed to hiding, suppressing and denying the most painful chapters of our lives.
This is precisely why Lent is so powerful. If we take the journey toward the cross seriously, we will start a courageous voyage that has the potential to transform our souls. For, when the soul finally goes against the tide of society, against the status quo, against family pressure… When the soul finally faces its long shadow… Yes, there will be brokenness, pain, ambiguity, confusion. This is the nature of all personal and collective messes. And this is why they are avoided. We instinctively avoid pain. Lent is the game-changer! Instead of avoiding the pain we face it!
Lent is about opening the door and facing that traumatic event that happened in childhood, which no one wanted to talk about, and which everyone in the family denies. Lent is about opening the door to the nursing home, the psychiatric ward, the veteran’s hospital bed, and the prison cell. Lent is about opening the door to the death of our loved one, which has left a hole in our lives that no one can fill. Lent is about addressing the wounds that have not yet healed…
Having the courage to follow Jesus into the shadow lands of Golgotha, failure, torture, and death is not easy. But it is the journey of Lent! It is the journey toward transformation!