By Andy Wade
Lent begins. I opened Christine Sine and Jean Andrianoff’s “Hungering for Life: Creative Exercises for Lent” and read these words for this week: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”. (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)
Immediately in my mind I traveled back to seminary, sitting in a class taught by Eugene Peterson. It was there I first heard the idea that day begins when we lie down to rest. Each day starts while we sleep, with God faithfully at work preparing our day. When we wake, we walk into something God has already begun. This may not be news to any of you, but at the time it was revolutionary for me.
So much of God remains hidden from our eyes and yet, day after day after day, God prepares. “New every morning” are his mercies. So often I lose sight of this truth. I wake – after a couple cups of coffee – with a list of things to take care of. Even before that last sip, my mind is swirling with the busyness of the day ahead. It’s so easy to forget to ask God, “What have you prepared for me today?”
So as I continue to reflect this week I will remember; the first business of preparation is God’s, not mine. Faith, the assurance that even before the crust from my sleepy eyes breaks open, God is there. God is here. God has prepared a new day for me to walk into.
If this were just an individual truth, it would be quite amazing. But as the coffee takes effect and my eyes begin to focus, I realize this is bigger than me, this is truth for all creation. God is weaving together a new day for the whole creation. Faith reminds me that God, in Christ Jesus, is reconciling all things. Creator God is still creating, weaving life and lives together. Knowing this I can begin the day as a child, fully trusting that what God is up to will be grand and beautiful.
But on Ash Wednesday, as we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together, I again trembled at the words, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Confronted by the turmoil within, I jotted down these words: “The same Lord who commanded us to love our enemies also taught us to pray, ‘Forgive us our sins in the same way we forgive those who sin against us,’ and I shudder.”
As I reflect now, I’m less disturbed. That idea still makes me tremble, but now I have a bigger hope, an assurance of things not seen. Even now in me, God is silently at work. God is cultivating the soil of my soul while I rest, preparing me to walk fully, faithfully, into the promise of shalom for the whole creation. If we dare to believe, we become both recipient and participant in the greatest gift of God.
Hungering for life is fully possible when we embrace God’s order for the day. The world may rage and the creation groan, but God, each night, is preparing a way toward shalom.