Forty days is a long time. Sure, it passes in a sentence with all the fasts in the Bible, but it lasts over a month in real life. And that’s a long time! Lent is always something I have not participated in and observed from a distance. But this year, I was challenged by a friend to take notice. It is a time of anticipation, like Advent. What could God teach me if I paid a little extra attention in anticipation of Easter?
Easter is a time of new life. In fact, one of my favorite spring flowers, the narcissus, is also called a “Lent lily” because they bloom this time of year. And with sunshine-inspiring flowers also comes fresh curiosity. That is part of the long explanation for why I decided to take Lent as a time to dive into a deeper study of theology. I am currently attending a Nazarene church, so I will be using their Articles of Faith document to spur my research. But in all honesty I come from a Baptist, Calvinist background so I expect some friendly disagreements will turn up. In the end, TULIPs are spring flowers also, and I hope to come away with a better understanding of how the Bible explains some basic parts of faith that I have known from childhood and sometimes struggle to clearly define. Every true follower of Christ reads the same words that God gave to us in the Bible, even if they choose to focus on different aspects of how to live those words out. And we can learn a lot from each other.
So, as with any study, this one begins with a question: who is in charge? It’s not hard to find an answer: God introduces Himself in the first chapter of this story about the world. Genesis 1 (read here in the International Children’s Version): God created the beginning out of nothing, with great thought, intent, and order. He also created it with beauty, delight in contrasts – all good things. He created with words. He made everything distinct as its own kind, and He made mankind to rule over the rest of creation. Follow-up question: what does “rule” look like? It’s something to examine further through the rest of the story, maybe with a look at God’s character as well as examining the history of His rule over Israel. But for now, this is an introduction. And this is a God that intrigues me. And humbles me. And I want to get to know Him better.
God, thank You for a new adventure. Please spur the questions, guide the journey, and help me listen for insights that may change me. And please bless everyone who is going on this journey with me…and prompt their questions, maybe discussions, and an eagerness for You rather than a frustration at slow answers. I’m excited to get to know You better. Amen.