Today is the 33rd day of Lent, according to the reading plan I am following. That means a lot of things: 34 days since I had my last sip of Dr. Pepper; 30 days since radiation has ended; 29 days since I arrived home; 9 days until Good Friday; 11 days until Resurrection Sunday; 14 days until my surgery.
Phew, that was a lot of numbers. It is hard not to mark the passing of time like that, at least in the past 9 months. A little bit more until this appointment, or that holiday, or this break.
But, back to the season we are in: Lent. A lot of people in the Protestant Christian world do not know much about, let alone celebrate this season on the Christian calendar. Friends, I have come to appreciate this time so much.
So, what do we do during this season? What is it even?
Let's start some place you know. Mardis Gras. A crazy, drunken festival where there are parades and beads and throngs of people acting as they wouldn't otherwise. Mardis Gras=Fat Tuesday. This is the day before the first day of Lent. People traditionally eat the end of their sugar and yeast and other good foods to prepare for a more somber, simple season.
The day after Mardis Gras is Ash Wednesday. We acknowledge our mortality and sin and remember the death of Christ. We repent and turn back. We give up (fast) from certain things or take on new faith disciplines.
Ash Wednesday this year was a sobering time for me. I was in Vancouver alone. I attended a church service where the pastor, my friend, rubbed ashes and oil on my forehead. As she did it, she said, "from ashes we came and to ashes we return." Can I just say, it was a very deep and real moment! Too real, if you get what I mean. I have been presented with my mortality so starkly this past year, and Ash Wednesday was an in-my-face display of it. (we may or may not have shed some tears about that moment at a later date)
Now I am home and Lent has reached its 33rd day. Acts 3:19 sums up these days for me.
"Repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away and seasons of refreshing may come from the Lord."
I have spent the days asking God to make clear the areas that I need to repent of and for direction in walking anew. Boy has he been faithful in showing me. A few days ago, while I was looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I muttered under my breath, "I hate cancer." As clear as day, God's Spirit prompted me...but do you hate sin more? Whoa.
What do we do with questions like that? Cancer sucks. It steals life and health and vitality. It is pervasive and undiscerning in its attacks. If we stop to look at sin and its effects, then we can be assured the devastation is even more far-reaching. It effects eternity. Eternity. As in, forever.
Lord, have mercy.
Friends, I pray that this season before Christ's death and resurrection will be a time of turning back, of slate clearing, of true repentance, so that in the days that come we may look forward to times of refreshing from the Lord. It seems so fitting that just 3 days after Resurrection Sunday that I am having surgery--the last major step in getting rid of this cancer. Oh how I look forward to the healing and restoration of my body that will come after--times of refreshing, indeed. Praise him!