Today’s Lent Project devotional is by Paul Houghton. Paul and his wife, Karen, are members of our Leadership Team.
“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” – Viktor Frankl
What do we humans do best when we can’t find meaning? We fill the void by seeking pleasure. The world celebrates the pursuit of pleasure. Do what makes you happy as long as no one (mostly) gets hurt. I think this idea is the Enemy’s way of distracting us from pursuing our identity as part of God’s restoration story.
Through Christ, we become part of God’s ultimate restoration process, which is where our identity and meaning are found. When we don’t know we’re part of something greater than ourselves and we don’t realize the unique gifts we all contribute to the bigger story, our lives become void of meaning.
Therefore, is it possible that denying ourselves certain simple pleasures during the season of Lent, no matter how trivial they may seem, can have an impact on redirecting our focus towards what God is doing in our lives?
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34
This verse is a reminder that for me, Lent is a reset button. What of myself do I need to deny in order to continue taking up the cross of Christ? What habits have I formed that need to be discarded? Where do I seek temporary pleasure in the absence of seeking something truly meaningful?
I believe that God’s restoration of His kingdom began the same day as man’s rebellion against Him. One of the foundational values of The Parish is that we believe the Gospel encompasses the entire story of this process – creation, fall, redemption, restoration. Once the world was turned upside down by sin, God’s plan to reset the world through Christ began. We are His proudest creation. He didn’t make animals or plants in His image, he made us. And we turned our backs on Him. Thankfully, He loved us too much to let a broken relationship remain in disrepair.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. – 1 Cor 12: 12-20
As a body of believers – Christ’s church, His Bride – we together are all part of God’s story, which is to advance His kingdom on earth. We are all given unique gifts and abilities by God to share in His redemptive story. So with Lent we prepare the way. We prepare the way for God’s ultimate act of redeeming us through his Son. We once again hit the reset button by preparing to die to ourselves and take up the cross for Him, each individual story a part of the one.