During this Lenten season, Jonathan Reckford encourages us to focus on grace and be people of hope.
Recently, I read an article in Christianity Today by Pete Briscoe about being on a journey from law to grace. He spoke of always having a taste of grace, but over the past few years deciding to bathe in it. I understand completely what he is talking about.
I had always called myself a Christian, but as a young adult, I had drifted, and my faith played no central role in my life. It wasn’t until God put the right person in my life who integrated faith and intellect that I was able to reconcile my theological questioning and integrate my heart and my head.
In his article, Briscoe said he assumed his spiritual health was determined by how consistent he was in his quiet time, how many books he had read, or how long he prayed every day. One of my great concerns during my time of questioning was that I did not want to be a hypocrite. I didn’t want to claim to be a Christian if I was not meeting all the requirements.
How freeing to learn that experiencing the fullest blessings of Jesus is not dependent upon how good we can be, but how intimately we are walking with Jesus. In Matthew 22:34-40, NIV, Jesus reminds us that being in true relationship with God is at the heart of our faith. It is interesting that we draw near to Jesus by practicing the spiritual disciplines, which we emphasize during Lent, of being still before God, of reading Scripture, of prayer and of listening. The difference is in how we approach those disciplines. From a more legal mindset, we can put them on our “to-do” list, mark them off and move on to the next task. However, that does not deepen our connection with God. When we are bathed in grace, we eagerly seek God in our quiet time, study Scripture for God’s direction and have honest conversations with the belief that God hears and answers our prayers. As a result, we draw closer to God.
It is through that connection that we find hope. Henri Nouwen talks about the difference in optimism and hope. Optimism, he says, is the expectation that things will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill His promises.
I feel so blessed because of the ways I see God’s amazing love demonstrated in the lives of so many Habitat for Humanity partner families and supporters around the world. I see such amazing examples of hope — and promises fulfilled.
Gracious God, we come to You eager to be bathed by Your grace to live as people of hope. Our tendency is to do the least amount possible to pass the grade, but fill our hearts so that they will be overflowing with eagerness to serve others. Free us from the law and show us how to journey in grace
1. What is your focus during this Lenten season? What commitments have you made? What do you hope to achieve?
2. Have you ever felt that you were bound more by the rules of religion than the responses of faith?
3. What will you do during this Lenten season to draw closer to Jesus?
4. What will be different in your life if you focus on living with hope?
By Jonathan T.M. Reckford, chief executiuve officer of Habitat for Humanity International.
Download the daily Lent Reflections in full here.