If you are really fortunate in these days of warming, sunny skies, you can see them: Sandhill Cranes. I saw a V-shaped squadron of them on Thursday, flying north from their winter habitat along the Gulf of Mexico to their summer habitat around the Great Lakes. I thought about the journey they were making — and about the journey the church invites us to take during Lent.
Like the Sandhill Cranes, this time invites us to come home. To return to the ways that deeply connect us with God. To migrate toward our home territory where we will find everything we need to live.
The Sandhill Cranes have a variety of routes they can take. Some fly a North-South route that takes them far to the east, flying over Knoxville and Toledo. Some fly a North-South route that takes them west, flying over Albany, Georgia and Terre Haute and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And some fly right over us.
So, too, we have many different routes to help us find our way more deeply into the life of God. Traditionally, Lent is a time to give up something or take on something. Some grow deeper in faith through study. Others take another route: By being a blessing to others. There are many other routes, too, like prayer, worship, fasting, and repentance.
Who do you want to be when Easter arrives? What kind of change would you like to see in who you are? What bad habit do you need to let go of? And what good habit do you need to take up?
Now is the time to embrace the blessing that God wants to give you. God stands ready to help you make the change you need to make. Not so that you can earn your way to heaven. No, heaven’s way already has you. We are saved by grace. But how can you grow in that grace? How can you more fully become who God created you to be? These are the good questions that can guide us to be happier, holier, and more whole.
A lay person who was a commercial airline pilot in my home church once gave a sermon in which he said, “When I am flying, 99% of the time I am off-course. Faith is like that. The goal is to not be perfect, but to keep adjusting what we are doing and who we are becoming so that we are a little more on-course. Continuous, small corrections are the key to piloting a plane and to living your life in a right, loving relationship with God.”
What small, continuous course corrections could make a huge difference in your life? Giving up smoking; getting more rest; working on being a better spouse; or just slowing down so that you can breathe. These are some of the grace-filled routes in which God invites us to go and grow. Not so that you turn into Super Christian, but so that you can just be healthier, happier, and more loving. Which can and will change the world.
We’ve been in this pandemic for a year. A year which has also brought economic upheaval, social unrest, and political division. We’re stressed, exhausted, and in need of a huge break.
What if Lent is just the break we need? A time to breathe and receive what God longs to give us. How is God longing to bless you? What is God offering you right now that will feed your soul and change your life?
Happiness, Psalm 84 says, is what happens when we find ourselves wholly in God. When we have made ourselves more at home in the goodness that God is offering. What is your way into that blessing? Find it. Live it. As you do, grace will abound. Happiness will be yours. You will be home.