The Following reflection was recently shared with our Word Made Flesh staff around the world. We thought we’d share it further by posting it here on the WMF blog. We pray it proves meaningful for you.
During this season of Lent, I hope that in the midst of all that you are carrying you have been able to give over your burdens to Christ and instead have been able to take His yoke upon you. Some of you have been relinquishing things for Lent as a symbolic practice suggesting the larger reality of leaving behind the old ways for the Way of Christ. Relatedly, some of you have been seeking to incorporate new disciplines for Lent as a symbolic practice of noting that our ways are not God’s Ways and to showcase that God is in process of making all things new. All of this is good.
Lent is a season where we seek in some form to remember, to identify with, and to walk in the footsteps of the Suffering Servant. Many literally mark the beginning of this season with ashes placed on the forehead (many others symbolically mark their souls with an ashen remembering) as a reminder that from dust we have come and to dust we will return. There is important humility for us to relearn in this season each calendar year. It is ultimately not us, but God at work in us that is the hope of glory.
The key is that we together, around the world, are remembering that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot in turn bear good fruit. Aspects of hardship, humility, self-limiting, and weakness, reside in this statement of “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies”; however, vitally, hope also resides here. The Lenten season of reflective struggle and death, after a time of germination, leads eventually to the season of Easter where we are reminded of our Rebirth (being born again), of our New Life in Christ.
Through Christ, the keys of death are in the hands of Life. Life, not death, defines our existence. The hardships that death works in our life are not the final answer nor the ultimate reality. Difficulties are taken and remolded in the Hands of the Potter. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Of course, sometimes the redemption we are waiting for seems quite a long way off. For staff devotions, we were recently reading passages from Exodus where the Israelites found themselves in bondage to Pharaoh. Full redemption can at times indeed be a very long way off. Nevertheless, even though it often transpires in ways other than imagined, God sees, miracles happen, redemption comes.
In the midst of it all, God walks with us. He never abandons us. Even while Life is in its germination phase (the phase where it often seems that death has had the final word and won), in Christ, redemption is always already at work and always gets the final victory. As with the life cycle of a seed, redemption tends to begin internally, quietly, without fanfare or bravado. Nothing seems to have changed. Yet, life has already changed everything. Much of the chapter of Romans 8, from which our above verse is quoted, is specifically about reminding us that we must wait patiently for the Hope that our spirits within us already bear witness is coming. “But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently” (Rom. 8:25).
I pray that God strengthens us while we wait (…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Rom. 8:26)). I pray that, by God’s grace and mercy, our waiting is shorter rather than longer. I pray that we remain faithful while we seek to see the salvation of the Lord made manifest in our own lives, in the lives of all those around us, and in the systems and structures that make up this world.
Prayerfully in hope, we say with the writer of Romans, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
International Executive Director
Word Made Flesh