what we hold, what we do – a meditation for Lent

From one of my favorite albums of John Michael Talbot comes one of my favorite songs, the words adapted from St. Clare of Assisi. Some lines from it:

Profession

What you hold, may you always hold
What you do, may you always do
Never abandon this way of life
Offer your vows to the Lord Most High

When Jesus set his face as a flint to go to Jerusalem his disciples followed as disciples do, but with uncertainties and fears. But they followed. This would be for them a journey and event that not only would become embedded in their minds, but also in their hearts so as to become part of their lives, indeed even as a compass for their lives whenever they may get off course.

Living in this world as Jesus did means we will be assailed on all fronts: from the world, the flesh and the devil. There is no escape if we’re to be true followers of the one who defeated these foes by his death on the cross. We too must follow in his train if we’re to be in that same stream of overcoming life and victory.

What helps me when I am assailed, usually with fearful thoughts which make me anxious, but no matter what it might be flooding in on us to overwhelm us, what has helped me is simply to continue to hold on to my profession of faith in Jesus, and continue to do what that profession involves. And weather the storm. In other words waiting it out as in walking through it, even through the darkest valley, an important aspect of faith.

As a Protestant evangelical I can easily forget that without works faith is dead. That I may say I believe, but that I need to follow through with actions. One of the most important acts we can do during difficult times is simply to pray. To read Scripture, and pray again. And to live, act and speak as the Spirit prompts us.

“The way of the cross leads home.” For Jesus it did. The way of the cross was the way of life through him for the world. For us in him it’s the way of life for us and through our lives in him for the world. It leads us home to live in the will of God, in his kingdom together in Jesus, in the sphere of the new creation here and now. I’m not thinking of the sweet by and by in heaven, but of life here and now by the Spirit. The beginning of what will come to completion in the resurrection.

As we continue to hold and do what is called for in Jesus it will become more and more a way of life for us. A way in which we will become settled, and will indeed be unsettled when we drift from it. Our goal is nothing less than to be  becoming more and more like Jesus, and more and more like him in his death. And to do so together, as his Body. Because only then are we the representation and reality of him by the Spirit here and now that we are called to be. Jesus walked that Calvary road, and while he had to walk it alone, he did take his disciples with him, telling all that to follow him means to walk that same road.

So let us walk it with him, together by his grace and for the God’s love for the world.

How have you found this to be true in your own life, and what insight might you have to help us in this?