Your Daily Lenten Devotional
March 14, 2012
Into the Wilderness
Read John 14:25-27.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (v. 27).
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
When people ran into Jesus they often had good reason to remember the encounter. Sometimes he infuriated them; sometimes he made perfect sense; and sometimes he did both. Regardless, those who encountered Jesus often left challenged, knowing the possibility of the kind of peace that the world had never offered before.
Jesus’ style of peace entails not simply resting in the presence of God so much as moving forward in the presence of God. Peace requires God-saturated behavior. Peace refers to a state of being more than a state of mind. Peace is an action word. That’s why Jesus said, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” Jesus settles the troubled heart, sometimes by troubling the settled life.
Dateline Folkestone, England
During a recent trip to England I made a visit to my hometown, where I was born and lived the first nineteen years of my life. Folkestone is on the southern coast of England, a few miles west of Dover in the county of Kent. It’s on the Straits of Dover, as close to France as England gets.
I had just a few hours, so I looked at the breathtaking scenery from the hills, walked around my old neighborhood, and then parked in the town center so I could explore some more. I discovered a new “superstore” downtown, with its own multistory parking garage. The roof offered me a view, looking east toward Dover, that I had never seen before. I thought I knew what the town looked like, but it turns out there is always a new perspective, a fresh orientation, and a more innovative view.
And so I walked around my old hometown with new eyes, seeing it as if for the very first time, not only with the perspective of a grown man but also with the vision of someone who hadn’t lived there for thirty-four years. I owned a new perspective because I’d never before looked at the town from that particular vantage point, a hundred or so feet above the city center.
This is exactly what I’d like to see us do with Easter. I’d like to see us standing in a new place, somewhere outside the realm of the familiar, taking a look at Jesus’ cross, passion, and resurrection—beholding with new eyes!
Imagine arriving at Palm Sunday (the week before Easter) with your devotional life finely tuned, your daily understanding of God’s grace well-practiced, your walk with Jesus in full stride, and your sense of expectation fully engaged. Consider the implications:
• What if we allowed everything that Jesus achieved and is achieving to impact us as if we had heard it for the very first time?
• What if we’ve been looking at forty days of Lent from the standpoint of tradition rather than living faith?
• What if our understanding of Easter has everything to do with religion and almost nothing to do with a transformational encounter with the living God?
• What if we did something new this year, and all of that changed?
I don’t know what the result would be, I’m just asking the questions. But then again, I’m asking because I already know from personal experience what can happen when someone stands in a new place and asks new questions.
How about you?
Prayer: We all have something to do today that has the potential to be exclusively kingdom-oriented behavior. Guide us in these few quiet moments to listen to your voice, God, and to bring your kind of peace into this anxiety-ridden world. Amen.
Reaching Toward Easter: Devotions for Lent
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Reaching Toward Easter by Derek Maul offers a daily devotional pilgrimage through Lent, using the framework of the Gospel of John as a guide. Features include a suggested scripture reading for each day, prayers for personal devotions, and a leader’s guide for weekly group meetings.
Used with the kind permission of our friends at Upper Room Books.