Summary: the only journeys of eternal significance are the journeys of our souls. This is an intro sermon to a lenten series on repentance

A Journey of Repentance

February 6, 2005


THE TWO TOWERS DVD Chapter: 50 Start Time: 2:44:15 End Time: 2:46:35

Invitation to a Journey:

The greatest journeys are never easy.

Frodo and Sam discovered that. So did Alice when she fell into wonderland, Dorothy in Oz, all the heroes in Narnia, and Taran of Taran Wanderer. And so have you and I. Of all the things that you and I value, I’m willing to bet that none of them were handed on a silver platter. None of them came without cost, without effort, without fight, or without sacrifice. The journeys that we remember and that shape us are the ones where we faced obstacles, but overcame them. Where the path was difficult, but we kept going. Where we were very often tempted to quit, but we mustered up the ability to carry on.

I recall, early in my married life, a camping trip to Kananaskis, and the ensuing decision to do a day “hike” up to the top of a mountain, aptly called “Mount Indefatigable.” Now, you need to understand, this was numerous years ago, when I had considerably more hair and considerably less belly. It was back when I had more of a need to prove myself to my new bride, and less of a desire to sit comfortably on a couch watching football and hoping said bride would bring me a plate of nachos. Hence the belly.

But back to my story. The trail is about 9km. That isn’t particularly long, and the first 3k or so through the trees are quite nice. But then comes the significant number in the story: the total elevation gain over those next 6km or so is almost 1km – 920m. Now, while many guidebooks describe this as “a pleasant half-day hike for even the most novice hikers”, DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT! I prefer vocabulary like “grueling, merciless, painful;” but definitely worth it.

Joanne beat me to the top. She was fearless, in far better shape than I, and less afraid of heights. And although I lagged behind, I made it also. Although I ached for several days, I reached one of my life’s goals – to stand on top of a mountain that I had climbed. And though it was difficult, though it was certainly a challenge, though there were numerous times of frustration and a great desire to give up, I kept on, and it was worth every drop of sweat, every aching muscle, and every ounce of energy.

As great as that journey was, however, allow me to suggest that the only journeys of eternal significance are the journeys of our souls. The journeys where the obstacles we face are overcome by God, where we find the will to keep at the difficult path because of the encouragement of God, and where we never quit because of the promise of God.

What if I were to suggest that the period of Lent was just such a journey, and that the reward was far beyond what you could even imagine here at the start? What if this was a journey of life – abundant, full, empowered, Holy, untamed, life? Would you want to come along?

Would you still want to come if I next told you that it would cost you everything (or, more accurately, I reminded you that Jesus said it would cost you everything)?

It is the pearl of great price. It is the journey of a lifetime. In fact, it is a journey of eternity. And it will be worth it.

Introduction to Lent:

Some of you may not be familiar with the season of Lent. In the church year, there are two major climaxes – there is the season of Christmas, where we celebrate the incarnation of God in Jesus, and there is the season of Easter, where we celebrate the atoning death of Jesus and the victory of resurrection. Advent is the season which prepares us for Christmas – it lasts 4 weeks. Lent is the season that prepares us for Easter, and it lasts about 6 weeks. Lent begins this coming Wednesday, February 9th.

Lent is meant to be a time of repentance. It is a solemn season, in which we are encouraged to delve deeper into the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and where we are invited to journey deep into our souls and allow the Spirit of God to search us and to lead us in repentance. It is a time of recognizing our sin, of allowing God to cut out all that is evil within us and purify us from all unrighteousness.

That is not an easy journey.

Confession and Repentance:

A few weeks ago, during a time of prayer, I felt like God was saying that while we might be ok at confession, we really have no idea about repentance. We are used to admitting, at least before God, that we have sinned, and asking for forgiveness. That part is familiar, and that is confession.

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