This week was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. As I understand Lent, not having been raised in that tradition, it is a time of reflection, confession, repentance, and being open to God as we approach His sacrifice, death, and resurrection. What He did for us at Calvary is not to be taken lightly. While the resurrection is most definitely cause for celebration, it is preceded by suffering in the garden, the betrayal of his arrest, brutality to the point of our Savior being unrecognizable, carrying his own cross up the hill, enduring the agony of the Father looking away as he bore the weight of the world’s sin on himself, and dying alone a most unimaginable death. These things are not to be glossed over but pondered and meditated upon. It is too easy to rush straight to Easter Sunday, not taking the time to be quiet and listen. Stopping and listening, listening and obeying, obeying and communing – this is Lent.
John 17 is dedicated to what is known as the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus. Personally, I find this passage to be among the most poignant and meaningful of all scripture. We get to see the heart of Jesus as he pours out his anguish to God. He surrenders himself to the master plan, knowing full well what it will require, and then without bitterness, he prays for his disciples and for those who will come to know him. My favorite part is in vs 11 where he prays that we love each other in the same way that he and the Father are one. To me, this infers what seems to be an obvious truth: we can’t be one with one another if we are not one with Christ. Jesus offers a relationship that mirrors his relationship with the Father and once we receive and experience that, we will be ready to love others in the same way. What an amazing thing to consider – Jesus wants us to share in the oneness he shares with the Father.
As we ponder Jesus’ prayer in the garden, it’s a good time to consider our own prayer lives. Why in the world would I pass on what Jesus has to offer in favor of a self-centered, pretend, non-walk with myself? I yearn even deeper for that real, true, intimate heart-to-heart friendship with my heavenly father. Oh that I might invest the time, energy, and the yielding of self to that which really matters. During The Dig, we opened every gathering with two minutes of silence, where we tried to set aside the cares of the world and center ourselves for what lay ahead. During Lent, I am committing to ten minutes each day of quiet and listening.
I love this prayer by Henri Nouwen in Show My the Way:
Why, o Lord, is it so hard for me to keep my heart directed toward you?
why does my mind wander off in so many directions,
and why does my heart desire the things that lead me astray?
Let me sense your peace in the midst of my turmoil.
Take my tired body, and my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms
And give me rest – simple, quiet rest.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind.
—John 17:11 (The Message)
Thank you, Gigi. Great thoughts to ponder on in the quietness with God.