Friday, March 11, 2011

Preparing Our Hearts For Easter

Lent is a big part of my Lutheran heritage.  My usually renounced vice is desserts of all kinds.  I remember actually having nightmares that I accepted a chocolate chip cookie in the lunch line in the course of my first Lent.  I also remember feeling quite accomplished when I won a game & gave up my Snickers reward during another Lenten season.  The point of Lent - as I understood it - is to spend 40 days fasting from some earthly pleasure in recognition of Christ's sacrifice for us.  Somehow, the fact that it is a time to be spent in prayer, repentance, & giving along with that self-denial was lost on me.

Not this year!  While I am not participating in Lent in the sense that I'm not giving up desserts, I am finally preparing my heart through prayer, repentance, & giving.  Michael & I are reading our Bibles aloud together each day, as well as 2 other excellent books:  Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper & Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross edited by Nancy Guthrie.  I already feel that my heart is softer as I'm being drawn closer to God.  These books are incredible, & I highly recommend them!  And because I like you, here's a little taste to whet your appetite:

     "Let us meditate a moment on the passion of Christ.  Some do so falsely in that they merely rail against Judas & the Jews.  Some carry crucifixes to protect themselves from water, fire, & sword, & turn the suffering of Christ into an amulet against suffering.  Some weep, & that is the end of it.  The true contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed & the conscience is smitten.  You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that He spared not His only begotten Son.  What can the sinner expect if the beloved Son was so afflicted?  It must be an inexpressible & unendurable yearning that causes God's Son Himself so to suffer.  Ponder this & you will tremble, & the more you ponder, the deeper you will tremble.
     Take this to heart & doubt not that you are the one who killed Christ.  Your sins certainly did, & when you see the nails driven through His hands, be sure that you are pounding, & when the thorns pierce His brow, know that they are your evil thoughts.  Consider that if one thorn pierced Christ you deserve one hundred thousand.
     The whole value of the meditation of the suffering of Christ lies in this, that man should come to the knowledge of himself & sink & tremble.  If you are so hardened that you do not tremble, then you have reason to tremble.  Pray to God that He may soften your heart & make fruitful your meditation upon the suffering of Christ, for we of ourselves are incapable of proper reflection unless God instills it."  ~Martin Luther, from Martin Luther's Easter Book, quoted in Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, pg. 11-12

May the Lord turn our thoughts from ourselves & from the things that so distract us so that we may gaze fully upon His beautiful life, death, & resurrection during this blessed Easter season.  Lord, prepare our hearts to worship & love You as You deserve to be worshipped & loved.  Break our hearts over our sin & bring us to wholehearted, life-changing repentance.  Fill us up so that our hearts & our very lives overflow with love & worship for You alone.  Amen.


Terri said...

I love this post. I've been praying about giving up something for lent, but haven't felt led toward anything in particular. This post really helped me. Thanks