-- Allowing Yourself to Need
The story is told of a forest fire that once burned through a small farm in western Canada. Many of the farm's out- buildings were destroyed. When the embers had cooled, the farmer walked around looking over the ruins. Noticing one odd burned lump on the ground, he prodded it with a stick. It was, he discovered a hen.. burned to death. The farmer turned the
hen over and to his great surprise, out ran three baby chicks, terrified and chirping. The hen had died in the flames, but somehow had saved her brood of chicks.
From the Gospel of Luke (13:34) we heard these words a few weeks ago..
"How many times have I wanted to put my arms round all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me."
One of the most painful symptoms of our humanness, has to be the ferocity with which we each hold onto our pride and “independence”. For indeed, as often as such things are extolled as virtues and signs of character, they are also THE two most impenetrable walls that rise between us and God's love for us. It is not, of course, that God loves the prideful or independent any less! It's just that we don't realize it; we don’t let the embrace of that love really touch us. So many of us, are so often caught up in misguided attempts to prove ourselves, & to show ourselves to be so independent that we don't need even look for or recognize God's love and help in our lives. Too many of us have been too often disappointed, or hurt, or deserted when we have shown our vulnerability, that we don't dare risk it again.
The days of Lent, however, are a season set aside by the church for each of us to take a "time out" from that kind of craziness, to really hear & wrestle with the profound truth of words like these of Jesus from Luke. It is a time for asking honest questions of ourselves. "What are the prideful or independent attitudes that I have that keep me from turning to God, even when deep down I KNOW I desperately need him?" "What are the pains and fears that I most need God to heal, -- pains and fear that (if left untouched/un-faced) will continue to keep me from opening myself to real trust in God?"
The truth is that - though we don’t always trust it - we DO have a God who is more than ready to wrap her brooding arms round us, and gather us under her wings. We DO have a God who is ready and able to touch our hearts and lives with a kind of love that brings healing and peace and joy even in the midst of the day to day uncertainties of life. But that healing begins with repentance (definition – “turn around”) -- the turning back to God that honestly admits our need and humbly trusts God's grace.
During this Lenten season I encourage you to avail yourself of the many extra opportunities you have to worship and pray, to study and grow, so that you may indeed come to know and trust again the care and grace that wait for you under the wings of God. We gather once more this Wednesday for Holden Evening Prayer - at Immanuel’s Massey Road church. There are also a myriad of “Lenten Devotions” to be found on the internet for you to give your time to at home/with your family. So too come the special Holy Week services in a couple of weeks (April 14 & 15). Take hold of any or all of these as your way of entering your own “discipline of Lent”. And may you – as a result - truly find yourself “turning back” to the one who IS the only source of real life and hope for us.