Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lent:: A Thousand Elsewhere

i don't understand why he would choose to live on the street rather than at the center but for some reason that is a battle for him. - Sarah
My cousin Sarah who works at an orphanage in Mozambique wrote this on her blog about 2 weeks ago regarding a young man named Selso who ran away from the orphanage to return to the streets. The streets of a third world country are not a friendly place for a young person. Still Selso chose that life over the orphanage.

I get Selso. I know from experience that David is correct when he writes, "Better is one day in the tents of the Lord, than a thousand elsewhere." Yet I live in the tension between the two. My greatest peace and my greatest success comes when I am in the Lord's tents. Still I find myself drawn to the back alleys and slums of running from God.

Though the tent of the Lord has my every need: the brothel whores of lust, pride, and greed are able to detour me with lies of familiar comforts. I find myself faced with the same haunting questions I had for the men of Swaziland. In my arrogance I asked, "why do the keep having sex with the risk of infection and death so high?" Yet in my humility I can ask, "why do I keep repeating the same sin patterns when I know the infection of anger, and the death of joy they cause in my spirit?"

Familiar is an addictive drug. The street may be filled with pain and hunger, but it is a pain and hunger that Selso knows. The familiar haunts of my spirit are no different. The result of my lust, pride, and greed is isolated pain and lonely hunger.

This brings me to this Lenten season. I am following the Creighton University prayer guide this year. The opening reading contained the following 3 verses from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you."
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

God made Christ sin! It is a statement whose depth is lost on us. It's depth is even more profound when linked with the sentence before it. As God made Christ our reconciliation, he has made us reconciliation as well. God has formed me to be reconciliation.

I intend these next 40 days to focus on reconciliation. I desire to first have my heart reconciled to the righteousness of God. I will fast and pray so that in my physical discomfort I learn to hunger for the tent of God. I will first focus on a pure and contrite heart. Second I will pray for the insight to be reconciliation to those in my circle of influence. I will humble myself, and not seek my agenda, but instead enter into their journey and bring the righteousness of God. I want to be an ATM of blessings. Third, I will pray to answer the calling of Isaiah. "Here am I Lord send me." I will pray for a future and a place where I can live out reconciliation to the refugee, to the racial minority, to the migrant worker, to the elderly, to the displaced, to the widow, to the orphan.

This lent I will pray that I stop leaving the center. I will pray into reality the words of Paul, "Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" I will mourn, fast, pray, and act for the purpose of reconciliation.

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