Friday, February 23

Brokenness and Contrition

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. --Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

The Lenten season has begun. In the remaining 38 days before Easter, many of us will be preparing our hearts to focus on the magnitude and meaning of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. For some, Lent involves contemplating the meaning by choosing to sacrifice some part of our own lives as an action of penance. Some choose to prepare through religious fasts, others with a slightly more personal spin, such as giving up eating chocolate.

Lent is not a renewal of our New Year's Resolutions any more than Christmas is about finding the perfect gift for the in-laws. One of the larger aspects of it is the oft-misunderstood concept of penance. Penance is defined as "the desire to be forgiven." A similar concept is contrition, which literally means "crushed by guilt." When I contemplate the work done on the cross, I cannot help but think of the intense physical pain that Christ endured. He was literally crushed for our iniquities.

When the Holy Spirit moves in us in such a way that we are moved to contrition, we too are crushed. Our conscience is pierced and we recognize not only that we deserve to be punished for our sins, but that we simply cannot pay the exacting price that God, who is completely just, deserves. Even though I know I grieved the Lord my God on countless occasions my faith and assurance of forgiveness enables me to see that it is not up to me to pay the price for my wickedness and sins. Christ has paid that price.

We do not need to let the evil one continue to beat us down or break us. If we have responded to God's offer of the free gift of grace, then the only part of us that needs to be broken is our will. Throughout this season of Lent, I will let Christ continue the good work he started in me, by seeking ways to let his will be the driving force in my life, rather than my own. Through prayer and meditation on God's Word, I will feel myself benefit from the peace and healing that Christ's affliction has bought for me. It's a sobering thought, and not an easy one to grasp.

Somehow I doubt that a mere 5 weeks is enough for such a process.

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At 10:16 AM, Blogger Beverly said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts on this season.


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