“Whoever believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” – John 12:44-47
I was facing Cincinnati rush hour traffic when my sister called me. I had been driving for seven hours and still had five more to go. I was making the trek from North Carolina to Michigan to be with my parents for Christmas. Before even saying hello, she asked: “Have you eaten dinner yet?” Once I said “yes”, she responded with, “Well, good because starting in 18 minutes, you can’t drink or eat for another 12 hours.”
I had to go to the doctor for my annual checkup the next day, and he had ordered labs requiring me to fast 12 hours before getting them. I was furious and anxious. I needed that coffee to keep me awake the rest of the way. That was the plan. That hope of that coffee was the one thing that would get me the rest of the way. Without that coffee, I had nothing but God. I was completely alone, getting farther and farther away from the community that I loved in NC, trusting by no strength of my own, God would bring me home.
When we are in sin, the path back to the light can feel long and painful. Yet, it is through self-examination and repentance that we can once again experience the grace and love of Christ active in us, providing strength when we can’t find that in ourselves. He sheds light on the darkest parts of our lives and leads us into his glorious light, giving us hope and confidence in his ability and desire to restore us. In Lent, we recognize that God’s work in our lives is not a one-time thing. We are continually renewed by God’s grace, and unable to do anything apart from Him. But we have to be open to receiving God’s invitation to seek the Light, Jesus Christ.
Lord, sometimes it takes feeling like we are alone in the dark to see the way that you are continually leading us in healing and wholeness. Let us continually increase our dependence on you, even at the cost of self-denial, trusting you will lead us into the light. Amen.
Rachel Price is the pastor of Winstead UMC