In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ [from Mark 1]
Every religion has ways of talking about transformation: repentance, conversion, being illuminated. We all feel the stirrings within us of the need for change, but it is so hard to do.
In Mark’s simple way, we hear in a few short verses how Jesus came from obscurity, was baptized, spent time alone with God in the wilderness, and, when John’s ministry was over, emerged to start his own.
Lent is our wilderness time. If we are hoping to turn our hearts toward God this Lenten season, we must start with transformation. The need, the desire.
Honestly, I think that’s what people are after when they set out to lose 20 pounds by giving up sweets during Lent. It’s the idea of being transformed into some better version of ourselves. We want to be thinner, nicer, more humble, more spiritual.
Jesus talked about repentance, which means to turn. To stop what we’re doing and do something different, or do the same thing in a different way. It requires change.
We get into habits, even spiritual habits, that become rote. Change is good for the mind, good for the soul. Doing something different during Lent can make us rethink, re-establish, who we are with God, who we are with others, who we are within ourselves.
We never stop developing. Yes, it gets harder to change old habits when they’ve been ingrained in us for decades. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Habits like not looking for God’s presence in the world, no longer hearing the rustling of the Spirit, sleepwalking through life.
Transformation may be huge. But it may also be small, incremental. I would never be so bold as to tell you what type of change or transformation you should attempt, but here are a few thoughts: 1) One minute of silence each morning. 2) One page of reading something deep and important. 3) Opening and ending the day in the presence of God. 4) Giving thanks throughout the day. 4) Writing one sentence or a paragraph in a journal—just thoughts and hopes, or fears, or emotions—positive or negative. Honestly, God cares about all of it.
Here we are, every morning, with the opportunity to make that day a new one.
How will you be transformed?
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015