Spring Cleaning for the Soul;
Reflections on Lent
By, Rev. Howard C. Earle, Jr., D.Min.
While writing this blog, I’m watching the snow fall outside the window in my office. Winter still has us in its grip, but I know spring is coming! Spring makes me think of renewal in every sense of the word. Consider how the rhythms of life are impacted by the winter-to-spring transition. We change over the wardrobe, the snow blower and lawn mower switch positions in the garage, the windows get washed, and the motorcycles and convertibles are polished for cruising. Along with these physical life transitions brought on by spring, there is also the renewal of the soul. This week marks the beginning of the Lenten season, 40 days before Easter. Every year my mother would roll out her litany of chores associated with spring; wash the baseboards, pull out all of the pants that were now too short or had holes in the knee, clean the patio furniture and sweep, etc.
Consider Lent to be a spring cleaning for the soul. It is a season dedicated to repentance and renewal. One of Jesus’ first public statements was to “repent and believe the good news!” In repentance we turn from our sins and toward a living God. This turn is not one of despair but rather one that allows us to appreciate the grace of God afresh and anew. Lent reminds us that we need this renewal consistently throughout our lives. We don’t receive God’s grace only at the time of our conversion. His grace meets us again and again. Winter and fall bring with them dirt and grime that build up over time causing surfaces to lose their luster. Hence those surfaces must be washed and scrubbed, returning to their original brilliance. Over time our lives lose their brilliance because of sinful practices and attitudes. In repentance we not only begin our new life and journey with God, but it is also the means by which all followers of Jesus begin again after failure. In Romans, Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Therefore, for the sake of repentance, Lent is for us all.
It is God’s desire that Christians grow continuously to love and live for Him. The intent is that we mature and grow and become more and more like Christ. The reality is life is long, zeal fades over time, and failure is inevitable. With this knowledge, the church has included within its life a season in which all of us can recapture our love for God and his kingdom and cast off those things that so easily entangle us. Lent affords us the opportunity to enter into a prescribed period of time to rekindle our relationship with the lover of our souls. The rekindling happens when we consciously invest ourselves in reconnecting through fasting, diligent engagement and study of the scriptures, and prayer. It’s time to “scrub” our souls, removing all the build-up of our sinful lives. Winter is fading and spring is coming. Get reacquainted with God and remember why you fell in love with him in the first place. Acknowledge the fact that you may have drifted, but embrace and cherish the opportunity to return and be received in the same loving way you did when you told Him yes, the very first time.