Summary: As we begin our Lenten journey, we focus on God
Something had gone horribly wrong. In the first chapter of Genesis, we see God’s creative activity. Starting with chaos God creates order. God speaks and things appear. After six days God looks over his creative handiwork and declares everything “good.” By the sixth chapter of Genesis, though, the writer notes that, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.”
How do you react to a project that falls apart, on which you have spent countless hours and effort? I’m not a patient person. I usually react with anger or frustration. Unless I find a simple solution to the situation, I quickly lose interest and drop the project. Maybe you follow a similar pattern. I can assure you, though, God does not.
The manner in which the Lord reacted to his creation’s degradation carries with it a powerful message of good news—of gospel—for you and me.
The Lord did not respond in anger. The writer of Genesis records that, “The Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Out of his grief the Lord moves in a loving manner to restore his creation. – I think we may understand a little what the Lord was experiencing. Some of us as parents have grieved deep in our hearts at the harmful decisions our children sometime make and how those decisions have affected them. We grieve over the battered, bruised, and broken relationships, and long out of our grief for healing and restoration. The pain and suffering that family members and friends suffer pierce our hearts, too.
Out of grief, the Lord moves in his creation. He did not react in angry judgment and his purpose was not annihilation—genocide. Rather, God moved to restore his creation. God washed the earth clean and both God and the earth began again. God took what he had—flawed human beings—and gave them a new beginning.
What a dynamic picture of the Christian life! Like the floods of Noah, God washes us clean in the waters of baptism. God takes the old us and make us something new—God brings us into a new relationship with him. Order is created out of chaos, and hopelessness springs forth from despair. This is also demonstrated in our Lenten journey. We move from brokenness and separation to the resurrection and life—victory over sin, death, and the devil.
God initiates the covenant. God enters into an eternal covenant with all creation without requiring anything in return. God does so fully aware that “the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth” still. The divine heart that was so aggrieved by human wickedness is now moved by that same grief to seek another way to get through to us.
God promises—by the covenant sign of the rainbow—never to destroy the creation by water. The implication of this promise is that God will try everything else. God will seek us and seek us, despite or perhaps because of God’s knowledge of every sin, every grief, and every shame that veils our vision of God’s reality and of our own as God’s creatures. Whatever dwells in our hearts that keeps us from hearing the harmony of all life in God’s care, God will not give up on loving us into restoration.
Talk about grace! God doesn’t wait for us to come to him, rather he comes to us. While we were sinners, rebellious toward God—even enemies of God—Christ died for us. God has already decided the issue—we are his! The Spirit now moves in our lives to convince us of this reality and empower us to live in it.
God will not move outside of us in order to force us in to a relationship with him. God has a better plan. God will move within us to draw us toward him.
We can look back in our lives and see how the Holy Spirit has moved in our lives to nudge us into a closer relationship with God. The Spirit has used people, circumstances, and other experiences.
The season of Lent offers us an opportunity to intentionally open up our lives and our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a time for us to see ourselves in the light of the Spirit. It is a time to evaluate our relationship. It is a time to renew and restore.
The steadfast love of the Lord overwhelms us. But it also gives us confidence to continue our Lenten journey and beyond. We do so secure in God’s love and in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is moving in us, drawing us ever closer in our creator and savior, and enabling us to experience the free and abundant life that is ours.