Tonight, I'll have an opportunity to hammer a nail into the cross on the front lawn of my church. I'll remember vividly all the times I've betrayed Jesus and the role I've played in His suffering. My spirit will crumble, I'll repent, and I'll wish there had been another way.
But on Sunday, mourning will turn to dancing. Christians from around the world will rejoice because our brokenness isn't the end of the story. The cross didn't have the final word. The victory was and is won. Hallelujah!
The Easter season, from Ash Wednesday through Lent and into Holy Week, is a special time in the life of the Church. It's the time when we remember what it is we're all about. We reflect on our sins and shortcomings, and we recognize the gifts we've been given through Jesus, the forgiveness and hope for life eternal.
Every year, it's the same services, the same traditions, and the same yearning for a deeper understanding of Christ's sacrifice. But thankfully, this year has been different.
In my church's tradition, we either fast from certain things during Lent or pick up a new spiritual discipline. Sometimes I participate, sometimes I don't. Last year, I tried blogging every day, and while I completed 39 posts in 39 days, I spent more time feeling like a failure than I did worshiping Him with my words.
This year, I felt... brave... gutsy... and incredibly desperate.
You see, I have this... habit, this way of thinking that leads me to places I don't like to go. The world would say I'm justified in feeling and acting this way, but the Bible says it's sin, and I've seen how it impacts my relationship with both God and the people in my life. I can't begin to count the number of times I've tried willing myself out of this stronghold, but if you've ever tried that yourself, you know it doesn't work. We don't have it in us to defeat Satan on our own. That's why we needed the cross, and why we still need Jesus. Every single day, we need Him.
This Ash Wednesday, I was so overcome by this particular sin's power in my life that I knew I needed to look outside of myself for freedom. And so I decided to do the impossible and attempt to fast from it during the 40 days of Lent. I set prayer reminders on my phone so that I'd remember to seek God's help before the temptation hit. I memorized Scripture that I could recite when my thoughts began to spiral downward. I did everything I knew to do to get Jesus in my corner. And you know what? It worked. By the amazing and powerful grace of God, it worked. When I finally stopped hiding and let Him have me- shame and all- it worked.
For 40 days, that trap hasn't grabbed me. I've gotten too close for comfort a few times, but I haven't been caught. That's because Easter isn't just about the distant gift of eternal life. Easter is about the resurrection and the gift of having Jesus now, in the everyday mess of our brokenness. And with His presence comes power. Resurrection power. And that's exactly the kind of power it takes to overcome each and every stronghold we face.