Lent began last week.
There is a large population of people who know me and yet have no real idea what that statement means because it is not commonly practiced in my small town Oklahoma community by most.
In a nutshell, I have spent my last 40ish years working to build habits in the 40ish days leading up to Easter Sunday that will serve me not during this time of refinement, but the rest of the year through.
It is a solemn time that focuses on the sacrifice made for us in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Savior.
Year after year, I learn something new about myself and grow deeper in my relationship with God through observing Lent. Even knowing that, and having a proven track record of being able to learn without my feet to the fire, I still, somehow, require life’s larger lessons to need some sort of flame.
In all my stubbornness, those big “ah-ha” moments still take me by surprise when they happen. This week’s moment culminated during a conversation on the sideline of a basketball game in a noisy and teenaged-boy-smelling gymnasium. This week’s trial by fire started out with small talk and ended with a big lesson. This week’s painful conclusion is that we as a society have become far more comfortable in the justification of sin than standing in awe.
It makes my stomach hurt to write that, but it is true.
As much as I would like to say it applies to everyone but me, I cannot. I never want to glorify the very things that sent Jesus to the cross, but I know I have. That “little white lie,” the use of lust and sex as a marketing tool during the very time we as families are sitting down to watch a show together, the use of substances to dull the stressors of an over-scheduled and overworked lifestyle, the use of a weapon to end a life... all sinful and all part of our culture.
My sin is no better than your sin, and our sin isn’t better than that of the people who make the 6 o’clock news.
We all fall short, but somewhere along the way we started believing the lies the enemy put out there that “small sins” are more ok than “big sins”.
Here is the real painful part, friend... A SIN WITH A JUSTIFICATION IS STILL A SIN. When we try and justify our sin, we do so in a way that we believe makes our sin appear less offensive to God, we mentally edit our frame of reference.
Take my favorite white shirt for example- when paired with my old, broken in blue jeans it appears at a glance to be like new. My frame of reference for determining how much wear and tear my shirt has seen is something just as old and often used. Sin can be a lot like that, can’t it? Something we slip in to because it is easy and readily available. Comfortable even.
Now, if my frame of reference is updated to a new pair of white denim jeans, suddenly the shirt I thought was in such good shape looks dingy, stained, frayed, and honestly, worse for wear. The shirt didn’t change. No- how I viewed it did. The ugliness of sin can hide in plain sight just like my old white shirt.
If we are not holding ourselves to the appropriate standard, God’s standard, we may begin to accept sin as the standard in this business we call life. Just like that, the enemy has manipulated our field of vision so we can’t see sin for what it is.
We want to judge other people. We act as if not being truthful is less of a sin than adultery, simply because it may be wrapped in a prettier package, or paired with an old pair of jeans.
Tragically, just because our worldly view of sin can be so malleable, makes it no less offensive to God.
Sin in ANY amount will distance us from God.
That is a painful point for me. We have grown far more comfortable in sin than we are in awe. We spend more time justifying our poor choices than falling face down at the foot of the cross in gratitude... for a life, for a Son, for an eternity.
What if our trial-by-fire, season of refinement, preparing our hearts for Easter Sunday, comes in the form of resisting the temptation of taking the easy way out, friend?
What if standing in awe means giving up the comfort of comparison for a real frame of reference? And what if, just what if, the one thing God wants us to sacrifice most is the one thing that moves us from sin to surrender?
Hi. I’m Jen-
a small town, Oklahoma girl married to a superhero. Together, we are raising a family on second chances, shiplap, and a shoestring.
I am a firm believer in grace, organization, and efficiency. I find great satisfaction in taking broken items and giving them new life, likely because that is exactly what God did for me.
I over use the word shine, exclamation points, and emojis. I cheer too loud in the stands of my kids’ activities and hug more than is socially acceptable. A natural born encourager and armchair warrior, I am learning to redefine my mission field and make the most of each day I am given.
I am chronically ill and chronically positive- not necessarily in that order. I am learning to practice perseverance over perfection and long for the day I get to see my grandparents and Jesus’ face.
Until then, I am just looking for Grace in the Grind.