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March 2017

This months post is written by Martin Lees, one of our Readers

How is your Lent going? Have you maintained the resolve with which you started on Ash Wednesday – to give up something, or to adopt a new habit or practice? Are you finding it more of a struggle now, starting to count down the days until Easter, until you will allow yourself some chocolate, or a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, whatever you chose to forego.

And if you do get to Easter with that resolve intact will you have a sense of pride, or perhaps of relief – that its all over for another year?

If so, then it is worth remembering why we put ourselves through such hardship. The forty days of Lent mirror Christ’s forty days in the wilderness. The structure of the church calendar, with Lent leading in to Easter, can be a little misleading, since Jesus’ time in the wilderness didn’t happen just before the crucifixion but it took place JUST BEFORE His earthly ministry started; it was a preparation for the world-changing, epoch-making three years for which Christ ministered on Earth. It was to ensure that Jesus was “match-fit” for the task ahead. So we should not regard Lent as an end in itself, but as our pre-match fitness training.

A professional footballer would not last long at his club if he argued that he had already trained all week and so expected to have the weekend off!

At the time of writing I am in Bradford, about to complete the second half of my training as a debt counsellor with Christians Against Poverty. It would clearly be ludicrous for me to return home feeling that “its all done, mission accomplished”. In fact next week I have my first client appointment, so will immediately be required to put into practice all I have learnt.

So as we approach the end of Lent, lets pray that we avoid the temptation to be proud of what we have done and instead, in prayer, seek God’s guidance as to what ministry He is calling us to in our daily lives. It may be a continuation of our existing roles – hopefully our Lenten training will leave us better equipped to be godly parents, grandparents, neighbours, employees or employers etc. Or has your Lent been preparing you for a new area of mission or ministry to which God is now calling you?

As Sir Winston Churchill almost said, Easter “is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

May God guide us to perceive what it is the beginning of!

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