What if Lent is about more than those lofty commitments we are
doing our best to keep? Every year we struggle to keep our Lenten
commitments, often with varying degrees of success. By Easter, we
realize we are still much the same people we were before Lent
began. At our age, it sometimes feels as though we've been trying
to pour new wine into old wineskins.
After many years of struggling with habits, we wonder if it
might be better to accept the fact that the old skins aren't going
to change. Instead of pouring new wine into old skins, wouldn't it
be better to allow the Holy Spirit to pour in more of the fine aged
wine of grace?
The older we become, the more we realize we can only increase if
we are willing to let go of our human agendas and images of who we
think we ought to become. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will
be able to come closer to realizing the dream God had in mind when
he created us.
That can happen only if we are willing to clear out some of the
clutter we carry within. We have become a culture that makes the
trivial a priority. Entertainment, shopping, magnifying of personal
problems, and being busy in the name of being productive keep
leading us down dead-end alleys.
Some time ago, we decided only four things are necessary for
deep spiritual growth: prayer, commitment, surrender and
forgiveness. In God's realm, everything good begins with prayer. By
prayer, we maintain a deep connection to God's will.
Commitment leads to a focus on God's priorities rather than our
own. Surrender creates an emptiness that allows the Spirit free
reign to take us in meaningful directions. Forgiveness pours the
fine wine of God's grace through us and into the lives of
Perhaps many of us began this Lenten season by looking in the
mirror and trying to do something about the "old skin" by vowing to
give up bread and sweets. However, as a friend once said, "What
good is Lent if we can hardly wait until it is over to get back to
where we were?"
Old patterns are like bunions. Our shoes can't get rid of
bunions and so the shoe stretches, making a little pocket to keep
the bunion comfortable.
Lent means letting go and making a fresh start at living in a
simpler, more meaningful way. This season is about being open to
new possibilities, gaining a fresh perspective and setting our feet
permanently on a different path, with or without those bunions. In
this Lenten season, we still have time to make room for the fine
aged wine of the Spirit until the old skins burst, spilling God's
kingdom all over the place.