Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lenten Journey

Driven with zeal and passion to protect the Israel of God, Paul meets the God of Israel and is literally knocked off his horse. When the strength of God is revealed, the weakness of man is exposed. As a blind and helpless reformer, Paul stumbles into Damascus and awaits God’s healing grace in Ananias.

Paul’s whole life is characterized by God’s call from strength to weakness. From the womb of Israel’s power he is called into the prison of the powerless. Beaten, stoned, left for dead, this man of faith is stripped of all the illusions of power and success. Naked and humiliated by the love of God, Paul comes to know a love that cannot be shaken, cannot be stolen, cannot be measured, cannot be escaped.

In the place of death, Paul discovers a life that conquers death. He enters into the joy that is content whether he is hungry or well fed. He learns to drink of the living water that cannot run dry even in the middle of wilderness.

The challenge of the Lenten journey is drink from the fountain that never runs dry. Only the water of life can sustain in the heat of desert living. Thus the desert teaches us to settle for nothing less than the living water that springs from the rock. We cannot imitate this water, we cannot manufacture this water, we cannot market this water. We can only receive this water as gift and drink and rejoice and be thankful.

The desert teaches us gratitude. Like Paul, we stumble into our Damascus, awaiting healing grace from another Ananias who is faithful to the call to pour out living water to those in need. And like Ananias we pour out the living water, so graciously given to us.

And in the midst of a wilderness, we plant a vineyard.

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